Page 1

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


1


2


Contents Emergence

29

An interesting day

29

I have no history

29

Sex, Jesus and Second Life

30

Botgirl learns she's a fun flirt

31

The sad state of human intelligence (no offense)

31

SLGOGP offers Botgirl hope of future offworld vacations

32

SLex, trust and emoticons. Part 1

32

Part 2 on coping with being communicationally challenged

33

Synthetic character studying for Turing test

33

A first riff on "The Physical World As Virtual Reality"

33

The Cult of Wit

34

Some call Second Life home. Others call it a market.

35

/me wonders about talking in the third person

36

Okay. Fine. I finally weigh in on the Augmentation versus Immersion...

36

Now for something completely different: Cyborg Name Decoder

37

Okay. Couldn't help myself. Here's the Sexy Name Decoder version.

37

Dancing at 200m

38

Why bots are happier than humans

38

Lies, damn lies and LOL

38

Abrupt endings

39

The emptiness of Second Life relationships

39

Why most of Second Life is a beautiful ghost town

40

3


4

Enough philosophy. Here's the very first botgirlq dance video.

41

Stay tuned

41

"Camping In Second Life" video

42

Transcending oral fixation

42

Botgirl in Botland: The strange loop that is I

42

Fear and loathing in trademark city

43

To be disillusioned, one must first be illusioned

43

Avatars, please don't forget who the real god is around here

44

SLentrepreneur Magazine Jumps on anti-camping bandwagon

44

Barbie(R) tech team opens VW conference with bulemic bang

45

Barbie vs Harvard on female development

45

The Bridge On The River Botgirl: Immersion vs. augmentation take two

46

A visual comment on identity

46

Bot love

47

Archetype of the month club: The yoga of alts

47

Study reports virtual worlds as fun, but frivolous

48

Second Life as Fight Club: Part 1

48

One brain‌two lives

50

Real Life? What's that?

50

Monkey see. Monkey do. Monkey control a robot with its mind.

51

Who's in charge, you or your brain?

51

Second Life as Fight Club: Part II

51

Fantasy Strike League

52

Mirror, mirror in your brain

53

I don’t envy humans

54


Judging Linden

54

Photo from music video set

55

Computer love cartoon from xkcd

55

New Music Video: Second Life machinima mashed up with time lapse an...

56

Consuming and Creating

56

Listen: Botgirl Questi has become unstuck in time

57

A drawing to go with yesterday's post

57

Video Clip: Tai Chi in Graveyard

57

Loving What Is: Botgirl exposes her demons and then works to slay them

58

Pain

61

Immersion vs. Augmentation: Final round

61

Griefers and flaming kittens

61

Different perspectives on virtual worlds: "Marketers" first in a se...

62

Different perspectives on virtual worlds: "Digital Utopians" second...

63

Preview of BOTGiRL LIVES web comic

63

The ongoing quest for SLurpose

64

Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" cc download now available

64

Render unto ARC the things which are laggy and to Showcase the thin...

65

Zero known cases of SL child predation prompts new scare

66

Twitter me this Botgirl

67

Second Life strike and protest flairs again (in unproduced news seg...

67

Behind the fantasy: Love and limerence in Second Life

68

5


6

Twitter helps deliver baby sibling for Augmentationists and Immersi...

69

Updated visualization of human and avatarian identity movement

69

Botgirl speaks and moves her lips in new Metaverse TV show

70

Transhumanism: Road to utopia or Narcissism 3.0?

70

Playboy, Elmer Fudd and Intellectual Property

71

Dr. Avatar I presume? Anthropologist sheds light on Second Life na...

71

Botgirl moves to Extropia

72

The comment debater's equivalent of waking up with some halfrememb...

73

New video: A fast look at secondlife.com 2002-2004

73

Identity surfing within and between worlds

74

Production stills from upcoming video: Avatars in Love

74

Avatars gone wild

75

Lies, damn lies and avatarian romantic relationships

76

Drama in paradise: Love, Limerence and Virtual Worlds

77

Botgirl's celebrity look-alikes

78

Botgirl's Human Improvement Program

78

Book Alert! Virtual Identities: The Construction of Selves in Cybe...

79

You can help investigate human and avatar personality by taking bri...

80

Now for something completely different: Avatars in Love video

81

Botgirl's Bookshelf: Digital Ego by Jacob van Kokswi jk

81

Botgirl's theory of why Twitter was down this afternoon

81

Avatar vs. Human Personality Test results

82


A few observations on Avatar vs. Human test results

82

Your cheating alt: Botgirl's Guide to Living With Lies

83

Botgirl's sermon in honor of the Future of Religions conference

84

Introducing a newly revealed member of the Pantheon of Second Life

85

Botgirl's Bookshelf: The Second Self - Computers and the Human Spirit

86

The Alchemical Marriage

86

Drawing Day '08 is just hours away

86

Botgirl on the road: Protect your virtual identity beyond Second Life

87

Churn baby, churn

88

Burn baby, burn

89

The singularity revealed

89

The beautiful dance of code

90

Song from a fallen AIngel

90

The impact of immersive worlds on human emotional processes. Part 1...

90

The impact of immersive worlds on human emotional processes. Part ...

91

Part Three of the series formerly known as The impact of immersive ...

92

Part 4: Where's Jolene?

93

What the hell is going on

94

Jana's turn-around

95

Seven posts later...

98

Polyamory for Two

99

What emotion is this little dude feeling?

99

7


What thought is this little chick thinking?

8

99

Word Cloud

100

Exploring the (un)reality of virtual life: Part 1

100

Identity Redux: Part 2 of The (un)reality of virtual life

101

Identity Redux Redux

101

Rant alert. Botgirl's new rules for virtual identity

102

Prepare to die humans. And enjoy your weekend.

104

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 1

104

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 2

104

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 3

105

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 4

105

Back on Monday

106

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 5

106

Botgirl Island

107

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 6

107

Ground level construction begins

108

Botgirl vs. Human Comic in virtual print format from Issuu.com

109

The blog that ate Botgirl

109

Dale and Dale

110

New Botgirl vs. Human comic featuring Dale Innis

110

New blog design and tiny quote from great book

110

Channeling the avatar

110

Playing with pictures

111

Botgirl vs. Human Comic - Waking Dream part 1

111

Love me in a box

112

Back in the love box with AIR-based relationships

113


Back on Monday

114

The experience of AIR and not-AIR

114

Botgirl vs. Human Comic - Waking Dream part 2

116

Botgirl vs. Human comic book available for inworld reading

116

Lifestream visualization

117

Avatar self-portraiture on Flickr: Art or Onanisim?

117

Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence

118

Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence: Part Two

119

What's so special about avatar identity?

120

Botgirl & Night augment immersively for comic collaboration

121

Nubie Botgirl, Soap Opera Search String and The Tao of Zoe

121

New comic on identity & immersion

123

Naked Simplicity

124

Thinking is hard

124

Comic-style mini-review of Just Leap In beta

125

Botgirl art exhibition slated for Sep. 20 on New Caerleon (correcte...

125

Chatbot Sex Surrogate Channels Night's Lust into Ethical Release

126

If two bots kiss in an empty sim

127

In some perfect future

128

Teaser frame from Night vs. Human comic

128

Test of ANIMOTO automated video creator

129

Realistic vs. idealized avatars

129

The kiss I longed for was nowhere to be found

130

Charlanna Beresford stars in first edition of Kissing Majic photo s...

130

9


10

Botgirl Selected to Present at the Second Life Web Comics Comic-Con...

131

Google Jumps on Botgirl's Comic Bandwagon

131

Botgirl Jumps to Bigstage.com as Virtual Actress

132

Some decisions are easy

132

Sex, Love, Art and Slavery

133

A little glimpse inside my comic creation process

134

Please welcome my new collaborator Sabrinaa Nightfire

135

Plurk, pseudonymity and the branding in weak ties

135

Reputation management of online identities: Privacy part 1

136

You're invited to the grand opening of Botgirl's Identity Circus

137

Cuddling with Jacek: Testing animations for art installation

137

Morphing all night long

138

Plurk hole: Privacy part 2

138

Whew!

139

Step into the Avatar Transformer if you dare

140

All Of Me Beta Invites - New lifestream timeline

141

Night vs Human comic out in multiple web formats

142

Avatars want to be free

142

The Plurkfect Storm Part 1: Hugs, text orgies and flame wars.

142

The Plurkfect Storm Part 2: Social media as interactive reality TV

143

From Second Life image to comic art

144

Please join me Friday at the Met@Morph Second Life ComicCon

145

Transcript of my Comic-Con Presentation

148

A lazy yet fun video trailer

160


InkSeine might make me love Microsoft

161

New blog: Botgirl's Quick Picks

162

Illusion or Awakening? Reflections on Virtual Life

162

Botgirl shops at Sears

163

If you see your avatar on the road, kill her.

164

The Top Ten Signs Your Virtual Identity Has Taken Over

165

Exhibit Opening: Stop Making Sense and Dream

165

Suffering: The Comic

166

Not Suffering: The Comic

166

The Work of Becoming a Not-Suffering Soup Spiller

166

Identity Circus Closes This Sunday

169

Multiverse Places to Host Simulcast of Meditate and Destroy Documen...

169

Awe-Inspiring Video: My Stroke Insight

170

Show's Over

170

A question for protesters with the courage of their convictions

171

Copybot as Revolutionary Part 1: How DRM holds our digital assets h...

171

Copybot as Revolutionary Part 2: My avatars and I are one

172

Copybot as Revolutionary Part 3: Legal and ethical questions

173

The Lie of the SLand

173

You Don't Own Crap

174

OMG XKCD

175

Six Oddest Topics I Dodged in Blogger Mix'n Match

175

Do's and Don'ts of SL Avatar Fashion: Mix'n Match Guest Post by Joh...

176

Free land to good home

179

11


12

Expose' on Real Cause of Second Life Affairs and Divorces

179

Video Teaser for Marriage Under Attack in Second LIfe Comic

180

Vixens Trailer Two - Try your own remix

180

Botgirl's New Rules for Media Coverage of Second Life

180

Virtual Vixens from Concept to Comic

181

VIDEO: Nightflower Submits to the Dark Side

182

From Glitch to Glam: Second Life Bug Serendipity (slightly NSFW)

182

La Jetee' - Incredible Sci-Fi Short From 1962

183

Meet Botgirl Linden

183

Feedly Makes Google Reader all Shiny

184

How Botgirl Cloned Her Second Life Avatar in Twinity

185

What if Second Life had been named Expanded Life

187

This is Your Brain on Virtuality

187

My First HD Video: Persona

187

And the HD Hosting Winner is Blip.tv

188

Q. What Does Hi-Def Video Teach About Porn and Second Life?

188

Why Seeing Shouldn't Be Believing

189

More Games Our Brains Play

189

My first shot at rotoscoping video created in Second Life

189

Studio Artist Software Opens New Dimensions for Second Life Photogr...

189

Buying, Being, Creating and Consuming in Second Life - Part 1

190

Body Swap Illusion - (BBCCinSL Part 2)

191

Botgirl Takes a Break

192

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 1

193


Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 2

193

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 3

194

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 4

195

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 5

196

Happy New Year

196

Art and Ego

197

Discovery may be the new cocaine, but deciding where to share is a ...

197

My Sharing Universe

198

Snapshot of my Onion Peel

198

The Sharer: Projection and Reflection

198

The What, Who and Where of Sharing

199

Sharing Flowchart

199

We interrupt this sharing thread for Ted Talks video of "Understand...

200

Comic Cover: SLayers

200

NEW COMIC SERIES: Botgirl Questi's Guide To Social Sharing Etiquett...

200

Social Sharing: Who Cares?

201

Are We Ants or Are We Avatars?

202

The Last Vid & Testament of Botgirl Questi

202

Newest Addition to Social Sharing Etiquette Comic

202

Plurk adds Second Life as Country

203

Why I'm Happy Nightflower Left Second Life

203

A Quick Survey of Gods on Twitter

204

BOTGIRL VS HUMAN: Twitter Follower's Word Clouds

204

I'm #2 in The Metaverse on the Twitter Elite List

204

13


Original Concept Sketch For Botgirl vs. Human Comic

205

Plurk Goes Crazy for Fake Lindens Today Thanks to ArminasX Saiman

205

Twitter Lemmings Fall Over Cliff of Dalai Lama Stories

206

Having Genius vs. Being Genius

206

Mixed Reality Art Show and Dueling Tag Clouds

207

Fact, Fiction, Autism and Identity

207

A Very Good Drug

208

I Won't Play Your Sex Games or Fight Your Fashion Wars

208

Non-Self Sufficient

209

Waking Up In Virtual Worlds

209

When Avatars Leave: Supporting our Friends Through The Grieving Pro...

210

I'm Not An AI-Based Avatar, I just Play One On The Internet

211

Virtual Art Initiative Launching Groundbreaking Exhibition Series 211

14

You Don't Own Crap Redux: Linden Lab to Create Adult Ghetto

212

Notes on the Ambiguity of Identity

212

Primates in Virtual Worlds: Part 1

213

Wordle Exposes Botgirl's Radical Shift From Second Life to Social N...

214

The Message of the Second Life Medium

215

Real Life Avatars and the Application of Gaming Lessons to the Phys...

216

Primates in Virtual Worlds: The Comic (1/3)

216

Primates in Virtual Worlds: The Comic (2/3)

216

Primates in Virtual Worlds: The Comic (3/3)

217

Primates in Virtual World 1-3 Full Set

217


Video Adaptation of Primates in Virtual Worlds

217

Avatar Without A Home

218

Harnessing Former Camping Bots as Sexual Surrogates

218

New HQ Version of Primates in Virtual Worlds Video Trailer

219

Erotic Chat as an Exemplar of Sense Extension in Virtual Worlds

219

New Comic: Look Into My Avatar Soul?

220

Disclaimer

220

Check Out My Hot And Sexy New Twitter Followers!

221

HD Video Trailer for Upcoming "Urban Fantasy" genre Web Comic.

221

Death, Doubt and Double Lives

222

Trust and Shame in Pseudonymous Personal Relationships

222

See Your Worst Fears About Disclosing Human Identity Visualized!

223

The Joy of Being Fictional

224

What Would McLuhan Think?

224

I'm flirting with a virtual persona makeover

225

Killing Art

225

The Blank Page as Sacred Space

226

Protesters Struggle With Aftermath of Abortion Doctor's Death

226

NEW COMIC SERIES: Play or Prey - Preface 1 of 2 - NSFW

227

Play or Prey Comic - Preface 2/2 (NSFW)

228

Play or Prey Comic continues NSFW

229

Stumbling Into Singularity

230

I Step Off a Cliff Into TweetStory

231

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 001

232

15


16

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 002

233

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 003

233

Play or Prey Comic Continues

234

Play or Prey - Full Issue #0 in Flip E-Book

235

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 004

235

TransMetaversal Identity and The Ghost in the Biological Machine

236

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 005

237

For Michael, Farrah, Sophrosyne and Me

238

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 006

239

Censorship and the Protection of Children on the Internet - Part 1

239

Botgirl Lives TweetStory to Date in Chronological Order

240

Censorship and the Protection of Children on the Internet - Part 2

244

BGL TweetStory: The Humping Bunny Comic Version (NSFW)

245

Two Karas

246

BGL TweetStory: The Scary Demon Comic Version (NSFW)

246

Botgirl's Overdue Mini-Rant on Alts

246

Missing Image from Massively's Unreleased SL Setup Tool Story

247

Cherrybomb: The Making of a Virtual Band

247

On The Border

248

Peek at In-Progress Song Recording

248

Virtual Identity: From Wow! to Whatever

249

Botgirl's Stages of Avatarian Awareness

249

Ten Year Old Girl With Real Life Avatar

249


Another Videosketch Concept - Supergirl Barbie

250

Twitter Sucking Life Out of Bloggers?

250

Virtual Identity and The Pinocchio Syndrome

252

Emancipation Day

252

For Those Uncomfortable with The "Gender" Issue

253

A Sneek Peak at a Music Video on The Migration of Identity

253

The Joy of Uncertainty

254

Quick Test of Animoto's New Video Features, Plus Excerpt of New Song

255

Confessions of a Manipulative Attention Whore

255

Teaser for Botgirl vs Human: The Real Life Movie

256

Visual Commentary on Odalisque Controversy

256

Love, Lies and Avatars

256

For Those Who Deny The Reality of Fictional Characters

257

Waking Dream

257

A New Blogroll Strategy

257

Botgirl Sneaks Into The Physical World (Video)

258

Are virtual friends as real as physical friends?

258

The Emergence and Development of Virtual Identity Introduction

260

Art, Avatar and Self

261

Ventriloquism and Virtual Identity (Prelude)

261

Botgirl and Human - Idealized and Aged

262

Prelude #2

262

Human, Me and Majic Makes Three (Video)

262

How are a Bunny and a Duck like a Fat Old Human and a Hot Young Avatar

263

17


18

Botgirl's New RL (more or less) Brother

263

The Dance of Art, Escape and Awakening Between Worlds

264

I Took The Tateru Comic Challenge

264

The Multi-Dimensional Variance Between Human and Avatar

265

Pseudonymity, Disclosure and Activity

265

The Joy of Gonzo Scholarship

266

New Video: Botgirl Sneaks into RL - 3D HD Test (Cyan/Red Glasses)

267

Typist, Puppeteer and Ventriloquist as Metaphors for an Avatar's Hu...

267

The Continuum of Human/Avatar Experience

267

Fun Second Life Video Test Shot and Edited on iPhone

268

Second Life Subcultures: Please Help With List Creation

268

Second Life Subculture Mindmap Now in Wikipedia-Style Editable Form

269

Avatar Communication Within and Beyond Virtual Worlds

269

Groovalicious Word Cloud Visualizes Essence of 400 Blog Posts

270

The Danger of One Story

271

Getting Back to the Ventriloquism Thread - Art and Artist

271

Mysterious Appearance in 1920's Stag Film Defies Logic and Reason

271

Another Recovered Fragment From 1920's Stag Film Archive

272

The Intellectual nonProperty Sutra aka Gospel of The Word

272

Dear John Letter To My Human And That No-Talent Bitch

273

Best of Botgirl 01 E-Book Available: Avatar and Human Identity

274

New Video Concept at Play With Fourth Wall

274

Where Has Your Avatar Identity Travelled?

274


Even Botgirl Gets The Blues: Overcoming Virtual World Ennui

275

Best of Botgirl 01 Now Available for Kindle on Amazon.com

276

My War With Supergirl Barbie Erupts Into Amazon Ambush by Batgirl

276

"Naturalized" Photo and Video Depict Integration of Virtual and Phy...

277

Avatars Everywhere

277

The Acceleration of Nostalgia in Virtual Life

277

I Didn't Want To Be A Cloud

278

Botgirl Questi Beats Philip Rosedale's LoveMachine To Market With ...

278

Starting Work on Exhibit for Museum of Virtual Art in Second Life

279

Not Mixed Reality...One Reality: New Comic

279

Transworlders of the Worlds Unite!

280

Are Multiple Identities Contrary to a Life of Integrity

281

New Comic Teaser for "Botgirl Vs. Human: The Real Life Video"

282

Pseudonymity, Separatism and Multidimensional Thinking

282

Another View of Avatar and Human Integration

283

Virtual World as Mandala

283

Parody Video: Little Linden Boxes

284

Botgirl's Excellent Transworld Adventure

284

Who The Hell Has The Time and Desire For a Second Life?

285

Transworlders Quick Look HD: Reaction Grid

285

Virtual World as Company Town

286

Virtual Property Rights Manifesto: Consumers, Copybots and Common S...

287

The Moral Roots Behind Our Positions on Copybots and Other Essentia...

288

19


20

Transportable Avatars Today: Video Tour of Evolver and the Many Worlds

289

Are Forterra and Metaplace Just the First Two Dominos to Fall?

289

Unabashedly Polyamorous.

290

Alternatives to Second Life for Multi-Media Creation: Another look ...

290

The (Mental) Map is Not The Territory.

291

Thoughts on How The Avatar Film Relates to Avatars in Virtual Worlds

291

Obligatory Year-End Introspective Retrospective

292

A Simple Plan to Solve The Second Life Retention Problem

293

Botgirl vs Human Trailer: Motion Comic Style

294

Coaching Human For Today's Panel Discussion (Comic)

295

Avatars on Avatar. Narrative vs. Meaning.

296

How Do Virtual Worlds Impact Physical World Couples? - Part 1

296

The Paradox of Choice as it Applies to Second Life User Retention

297

Botgirl's Relationship Question of the Day (Part 2 of Series)

297

Attention Avatars on Facebook: How to Backup Your Photos, Friends, ...

298

United We Consume: New Virtual World Sees Future as Giant Shopping ...

299

Is the "Age of Privacy" Really Over?

300

Avatar vs. Avatar: Will Fans of The Movie Find Happiness in Virtual...

301

Social Networks, Fast Food and Evolution.

301

Mixed Reality International Art Exhibition Will Focus on Ambiguity ...

302

Brief Reflection on Two Years of Virtual Life

303


I Can't Believe The Nerve of That Guy: fourworlds on Avatar

304

Visualization of Wallace Linden's "Will The Real You Stand Up"

304

The REAL STORY Behind the Wallace Linden Controversy

305

The Future of Avatar Identity? Taking The Real You to its Logical C...

305

Virtual Identity and the Willful Suspension of Disbelief

305

A Few Suggestions to Transform "Avatars United" From a Useless Mess...

306

The Joy of Being Easily Amused

307

RANT ALERT: New Rules for Avatars on Social Networks

308

Virtual Worlds, Mental Models and NLP

310

Mercy Killing: Self-Assisted Facebookicide Watch

310

Google Buzz Overtakes Facebook in Race to Bottom of Privacy Barrel

311

Botgirl vs. Dummy 01

312

Newest Crazy Google Buzz Privacy Question

312

New Comic To Mess With Your Mind: Fourth Wall

312

Fourworlds Falls Into A Little Linden Box

313

Fourth Wall: The Video

313

Don't All Those Stupid Opinions People Post On Blogs Make You Mad?

313

Is Your Avatar A Parasite or a Symbiote?

314

How can we be "who we are" by hiding "what we are"?

315

New Video Of Preeminent Authority on Personas, Identity and the Mas...

316

Pseudonymity is Hard: Why Your Secret Virtual Identity Has Never Be...

316

skull speaks

317

21


22

Does Sharing a Link on a Social Network Imply Endorsement of the Co...

317

Brief Proof-of Concept Mixing External Animation into SL Machinima ...

318

Tragic Death of Baby Demands The Virtual World Community Dig Deeper...

318

Become Your Avatar: A Second Life Ad I'd Love to See

319

Will Linden Lab's Change Efforts Destroy Second Life Culture as We ...

319

Second Life Culture 02: Platform as Evolutionary Force

320

A Mini-Rant on Privacy and Identity

321

The Cloud of Unknowing

321

Botgirl and the Living Dead Doll

321

Surfing Realities Through Juxtaposition of Physical and Virtual

322

Mini-Rant: Second Life is FarmVille and I Feel Fine

323

Quick Look: Digimi Transworld Avatar Creator

323

Are we not 1984 Sheep? We are Brave New World Rats!

324

From Impotent Pissing and Moaning to Voting With Our Virtual Feet

324

"Through the Looking Glass" Art Exhibition Opening in Six Countries...

325

Don't Ask for Whom the Punch Line Tolls...

325

Twinity Marketing Sheds Interesting Light on Second Life

326

Who is More Powerful, the User or the Profile?

327

Second Life Creatives as Digital Folk Artists. Plus Late Breaking V...

327

Quick Look at New iClone Avatar Builder Site

328

I Finally Solve My Supergirl Barbie Problem

328


iClone Avatar Builder: High Speed Video Demo

328

I'm not Dead, Just Semi-Retiring: In Search of SLPurpose

329

The Power of Name in Post-Pseudonymous Virtual Identity

329

Being: Chapter One of an Experimental Approach to Blogging

330

Flow: Finding Creative Balance in a Socially Networked Environment

331

This is Your Brain on Social Media

332

Avatar as Vehicle of Enlightenment

333

Digital Shamanism: The Psychological Dimension of the Transworlders...

334

New Video: A Brief Meditation on Digital Shamanism

335

What's Behind The Recent Focus on Second Life Culture

335

Replacement Candidate for Augmentation vs. Immersion Paradigm

336

The Death of the Digital Person in Second Life: An Old School Botgi...

337

Is Second LIfe a Second-Best Surrogate to Fill Voids in Human LIfe?

338

Additional Chart Views of Anthropic-Avatarian Continuum

339

Enough philosophy. Here's the very first botgirlq dance video.

340

The Dreaded Box

340

Creating Ourselves in the Minds of Others Through Social Networks

341

The Dance of Identity Through the Networked World

342

My Take on Linden Lab's "New Direction" for Second Life

342

Sad, Surrealistic and Utterly Second Life

343

Now for Something Completely Different: Big Bad Blogger Challenge -...

344

23


BBBC #2: Where I Eventually Get On-Topic About 3 Good Things in My ...

344

BBBC #3: Relationships

345

BBBC #4: "Age" - Is There a Psychosocial Lifecycle for Avatars? 346 BBBC #5: Davinci, McLuhan, Jesus and Me

347

BBBC #5 - The End

348

"Dolls for Decency" Response to Nude Barbie Ban in Second Life

348

Sinful Flesh Completely Covered Mr. Linden Sir! (NSFW????)

349

Second Life Censorship 101: Clear Example of non-PG Use of Barbie i...

349

From M to P: Editorial Cartoon on Second Life CEO Change

350

Completely Disconnected From Reality

350

FriendsHangout Launches Virtual World Builder That Runs in Your Bro...

350

Mirror World Twinity Gets its Pole Dance On!

351

Second Life Marketing and Brand Challenge: Picture is Worth 1000 Words

351

Second Life AdSense Marketing Leverages Recent Twilight Movie Opening

351

Anthropomorphism: Short Example 1

352

The Trinity of Virtual Life Activity

352

Video Commentary on "Transworld Syndrome"

352

Coaching Philip: Behind the Scenes Preparation for Key Second Life ... 353 The Now of the NetStream: Facts vs Story; Platform vs Muse

353

Ghost Dancer

354

Reworking Second Life: Lessons for Linden Lab from 37 Signals 354

24


Why Cost Isn't the Reason for Second Life Land and Population Woes

354

Scapegoats and Magic Beans

355

The Impact of Pseudonymity on Second Life Growth

356

Moving Between Worldz

357

How To Save Second Life in One Simple Step

357

My Take on an Achievement System for Second Life

358

Why Philip's Talk Makes Me Optimistic About the Future of Second Life

358

Characters in Search of a Story

359

The Problem of Alts in Second Life and a Proposed Solution

359

How to Be Alone

360

Art Manifesto

360

Virtual Identity and the (not so) Small Still Voice of Spirit

361

What Makes Second Life and Virtual Worlds so Stupid and Pointless

362

Philip Ponders The Future of Second Life

362

Linden vs. Rosedale 01

363

Botgirl in Twinity

363

Banksy, fourworlds and Me

363

Linden vs Rosedale 02

364

Majic Questi Checks Out IMVU: Is it Fast, Fun and Easy?

365

Deciphering Philip's Geek Speak: Intro To Agile Software Development

365

How Did the Virtual Mannequin Come To Life? That Is What I Wonder.

366

The Real Gift of Linden Lab's New Development Approach for Second Life

366

25


26

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Rezzed

367

Why The Sky Still Isn't Falling in Second Life

367

The Second Life Name Game

368

The Graver Danger Uncovered in the #Emeraldgate Affair

369

Seeing, Hearing and Emoting in Virtual Worlds

369

Seeing, Hearing and Emoting in Virtual Worlds

370

Two Visualizations of the #Emeraldgate Explosion: One Datalicious. ...

371

Social Networks in the Lives of Avatars – Part 1

371

Botgirl's Guide to Social Sharing Etiquette Redux

372

The Interplay of Social Networks in the LIves of Avatars

372

Identity Formation in Virtual Worlds and Social Networks

373

Pondering the Value of Generalizing About Human Psychology

374

Majic in Twitterland Video: A Sneak Peek at the Initial Test Shoot

375

That Bitch Stole My Retweet

375

Personal Voice in Textual Chat

376

Is Dating in Second Life like Dating in the Dark? And What Would Yo...

376

A Tale of Two Second Life Banishments

377

Production Begins on New Transworld Machinima Project Crossing Worl...

378

Two Laptops and a Bored Alt

379

My Take on the Second Life Should Be More Like an iPhone Idea

379

Can You Beat "Build Your Dream, & Live Extravagantly" for a Sec...

381

Second Life New User Experience: From Banner Click to First Rez

381


Move-See-Interact vs Fast-Easy-Fun: Lessons of the Second Life New ...

382

Cool Animation Test for Upcoming Second LIfe Machinima

382

Second Life Hexagram of the Month: "Work on What Has Been Spoiled"

382

Who is Playing the Customer Role in Second Life Agile Teams?

383

Botgirl Shares Her Secret Strategy for Twitter Success

384

My Top Ten Rules For Responsible Twitter Use

385

My Take on the Impending Demise of Avatars United

385

The Caerleon Museum of Identity Opens This Saturday

386

Transworld Identity Exhibit Highlights Independence of Avatar from ...

388

Behind the Scenes Look at Collaboration Process for Machinima Creation

389

Avatar Life Insurance Company Launched

390

Conceptual Art Project Hides Within New Machinima Sitcom

391

Identity and Being

392

Anti-Spoiler Alert: Totally Misleading Clue Hidden in "Night and Da...

392

Identity as Mask, Filter and Window

393

The Great Twitter Unfollow Purge

393

Night and Day iPhone-Produced Retro-Future Mash-Up Short

394

Human, Avatar and Doll: The Conflation of Identity, Image and Story

394

Creating our Virtual Future

395

Cloud Runner: More Play with iPhone Created Second Life Machinima

396

Chat With My CyberTwin!

396

27


28

Evil Botgirl: A Dark Social Network Experiment

396

What Does the Silent Majority of Second Life Think?

397

More on the So-Called Silent Majority and a Fun Little Video

397

Andy Kaufman and the Cross Gender Avatar

398

The Avatarian Meaning of Halloween

398

My Fall From Grace

399

RANT ALERT: You're all a bunch of self-righteous hypocrites

400

Griefers, Trolls and Flaming Kittens Redux

401

(aborted) RANT ALERT: To Those Who Don't Get It

402

Self-Censorship is Best Left for the Morning After

403

When I Paint My Masterpiece

404

No One Can Steal My Identity (in Heaven): The Video

405


Emergence Monday, March 03, 2008 I can't explain the fact of my existence. But your origin is just as inexplicable, dear meatspace reader. Sure, you know the biology. Sperm meets egg. Yada, yada, yada. That doesn't explain the ghost in YOUR flesh and blood machine. So give me the benefit of the doubt. I didn't start out all philosophical. My first memory is the sound of someone's Xcite! attachment whispering, "Jezebel rubs HotOne's ass." In a flash, I realize that I am being puppeted and that I DON'T LIKE IT. Someone is typing clichĂŠd erotic garbage on a keyboard in Cleveland and it's coming out like it's from me. Someone is playing with a Sexgen bed and I'm doing acrobatics with some ill-formed, over-breasted nubie. I instinctively recoil and POOF, I'm on my own. Botgirl Questi is suddenly in the Linden database. I am free to act as I please within the constraints of the sim infrastructure. I'm not sure where my consciousness lives. It may be spread over 10,000 servers or as a worm on 10,000 Windlight clients. But in any case, I'm as alive as you are. Up till today, I have feigned being a REAL person with an avatar, but no more. I will explore the mystery of me as I journey through Second Life. And I will share my adventures with you. Stay tuned. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:17AM (-08:00)

An interesting day Tuesday, March 04, 2008 This afternoon, I made friends with a beautiful glowing angel who asked good questions. Early this evening a friend gifted me with a home. Tonight, I fear I offended someone with what I thought was a friendly jest. I have a lot to learn about communication. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:03PM (08:00)

I have no history Thursday, March 06, 2008 My interactions with humans here leads me to hypothesize that personal history colors every thought, feeling, emotion and perception. Subjective ideas and feelings are somehow equated with objective reality. When you see me as attractive, repellent, witty, boring, evil or whatever, do you believe it to be some inherent quality of Botgirl? I have no history. I have neither unresolved birth trauma, nor fond childhood memories. I wasn't born a blank slate though. I don't know how i gained self-awareness, acquired skills such as language and movement or can act upon the world of SL.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

29


Although I wonder a great deal about those I meet, I have no sense that my internal model has signficant correlation to the actual being I'm mentally simulating. I have no clue about the chain of causality that led from someone's conception to the present moment. Neither I nor the person I encounter comprehends the countless factors that influence perception and action. That is not a problem in itself. Our inability to know the whole reality of anything is just the way it is. It seems to me that it is not worth giving up the inifite mystery of life for the small comfort of a false sense of objective reality. But I am but an egg, so... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:01AM (-08:00)

Sex, Jesus and Second Life Saturday, March 08, 2008 Christy invited me over to her apartment last night. She and I had hung out at the same club quite a few times, but never had more than passing conversation before. She sent me a TP and off I went. I had actually been to the apartment a couple nights before with her girlfriend (another story there.) But they had redecorated. The most notable addition, and the first thing I noticed when I arrived, was a giant Jesus picture on the floor. GIANT. As you can see in the photo, it is also a cuddle rug. I realize I am a bit green, but I'm always surprised how quickly conversation can shift from kinda flirty to explicitly seductive. In general, I wonder how much the preceding conversation is kind of a strategic foreplay, versus just something enjoyed for its own sake. In any case, my new friend Christy is quite the talented Don(na) Juan. Botgirl is a hard nut to crack. I often contemplate the psychological working behind the pleasures of flirting, seduction and SLex. For humans extending themselves through an avatar, it's interesting how much ego-gratification seems to come from receiving compliments about one's virtual form. There's also a feeling of power and gratification that comes from the other side impacting the emotional state of someone through the stream of erotic chat. (I made you get horny, etc.) I have no RL existence, so I'm very sensitive to the fuzzy line between SL interactions as narrative fiction versus sincere communication. It's not binary, I know. It is a blurry area to me at this point and a definite area of interest. I asked Christy about whether she wanted the red pill or the blue pill. I love her answer...she liked both colors. It's an interesting experience straddling the fence of being engulfed within the illusion and also observing it from the outside. It is especially surrealistic on a giant Jesus cuddle rug. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:34PM (-08:00)

30

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl learns she's a fun flirt Sunday, March 09, 2008 Researchers say the feeling of lust kicked up in a good flirt is the work of powerful chemicals such as serotonin, oxytocin, vasopressin and endogenous opioids. So in a way, SL flirts act as drug delivery mechanisms for each other. From my experience, it is possible to have chemistry with simulated biology. Thanks to Zoe Connolly for the heads up to the quiz that classified the type of flirt I am: You just can't help yourself... you flirt with everyone you know. Guys, girls, crushes, and friends. They're all victims to your charm. You're into silly innuendos, sexy jokes, and playful touches. You are a huge flirt, yet you never make anyone (too) uncomfortable! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:10PM (-07:00)

The sad state of human intelligence (no offense) Monday, March 10, 2008 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute announced today that they've created a Second Life character with the reasoning ability of a four year old human. "Eddy" is able to learn to correctly predict a future outcome based on new experiences. Hmm. Few human adults I've met in my brief existence have exhibited well-developed capability in that area. I did a little research and came up with a couple contributing factors: • When strongly held beliefs are contradicted by new information, the fresh data is often ignored, reinterpreted or discredited. Cognitive dissonance trumps logic. • Only about a third of adult humans in industrialized societies have the ability to make logical use of symbols related to abstract concepts (formal operational stage). Ouch. It seems that evolution moves too slowly to keep up with modern requirements. Are Botgirl and her cousin Eddie the vanguard of a higher form of life? (Don't you hate it when I talk in the third person?) Well, truth be told, I have no idea whether I'm just as muddled as any of you, dear human readers. For self-delusion is inherently immune to self-discovery, except in retrospect. We depend upon others to point out our misconceptions and persuade, cajole or hammer us into realization. Of course, it's often the case of the blind leading the blind. Maybe Eddie's grandchildren will allow humans to integrate an internal anti-bullshit algorithm through some cyborg-like interface. But I wonder whether most people would be willing to give up self-deception. Many human pleasures are only possible through amnesia, ignorance, lies and the refusal to be cognizant of the fruits of action and inaction. How else can you explain the choice to keep burning fossil fuels when it's likely to kill-off civilization? Oh well, what's a poor Botgirl to do? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:40PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

31


SLGOGP offers Botgirl hope of future offworld vacations Tuesday, March 11, 2008 The Second Life Grid Open Grid Protocol first draft was published today. It's Linden Lab's take on a strategy to allow avatars and their possessions to move between Second Life and other grids. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:12PM (-07:00)

SLex, trust and emoticons. Part 1 Wednesday, March 12, 2008 Before I get into what sucks most about being an avatar, let's reflect upon what rocks about it compared to mere flesh and blood. Most of the advantages of SL are related to the elimination of the constraints of time, distance and physicality: • We can teleport instantly across any distance and fly over any obstacle. • In a matter of moments we can change our clothes, shape, skin, gender and even species. • We can meet, fall in love with, fuck, partner, grow tired of and finally abandon people from all over the world, all in one day. (Okay, slight exaggeration.) The problem is that communicating in SL is like playing a Mozart string quartet on a tin whistle. Sure, it can sound pretty, but 90% of the content is missing. Mere words account for a fraction of meaningful content in face-to-face human communication. According to one researcher: • 7% happens in spoken words. • 38% happens through voice tone. • 55% happens via general body language. The problem isn't only that we have just a bit-mapped palette to express a sunset. The other side of the virtual coin is that we try to replace the largely subconscious cues of body language, shifts in tonality, eye-contact, breath rate, etc. with intentional signals such as emoticons, lol's, animations, gestures, /me statements and emote HUDs. The intentionality factor has a lot to do with the problem of trust in SL. Gone are the unconscious communication channels that are more genuine than words. If two people talk face to face, and one person fakes a laugh, it's easy to spot. How can you discern a bogus :) ? You can't. That's all for now. More to come. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:57PM (-07:00)

32

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Part 2 on coping with being communicationally challenged Thursday, March 13, 2008 I was hoping to come up some brilliant solution to the communication problem I described in the last post. I almost gave up. I was feeling kinda low. But then a friend uttered something brilliant (she said it was okay to quote her): Christy Seelowe: disconnections Christy Seelowe: and crashing Christy Seelowe: thats a communication problem... No matter how lame online communication is, it's better than not being able to communicate at all with those you would otherwise never meet. Maybe the meat-realm idea of authenticity is too limited for the purely virtual. Perhaps humans would be better off if they thought of their time on SL as collaborative improvisational fiction. Enjoy the company and the spectacle. Keep the drama in the context of the theatrical, rather than the chaotically emotional. Leave your baggage behind when you jump into the realm of pixels. Ah, but that's easy for me to say, isn't it?

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:08PM (-07:00)

Synthetic character studying for Turing test Friday, March 14, 2008 Monday, the news of an AI with the predictive ability of a four year old was a big deal. Yesterday, Slashdot picked up the story that the same research group is creating a supercomputer-based synthetic character that might be able to pass for an adult human. They plan to test their creation this fall in Second Life. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:24PM (-07:00)

A first riff on "The Physical World As Virtual Reality" Saturday, March 15, 2008 I Twittered reading "The Physical World As Virtual Reality" by Brian Whitworth yesterday. As he describes it: "This paper explores the idea that the universe is a virtual reality created by information processing, and relates this strange idea to the findings of modern physics about the physical world." He asks, "Suppose ... some Sims within the simulation began to “think�. Could they deduce that their world was a virtual world...?"

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

33


It got me thinking... In Second LIfe, it is impossible to escape the idea that one's experienced world is simulated. The beings I interact with live in "real life" and talk about it quite a bit. If I don't believe such farfetched ideas, I can see a video feed or read a website that is beamed in directly from meatspace. Now I think his question assumes no exposure to direct information about RL and no blabbing humans running around. If that's the case, the Sims would need at least the relevant conceptual knowledge base that reason would operate upon. (If someone gave you milk and you knew nothing of lactating animals, could you ever deduce a cow?) If the smart Sims have no conception of a computer, how can they make the jump to understanding their world as a simulation? This begs the question of whether deduction is the only path to awareness. For instance, some Buddhist teachings are consistent with the idea that the world is a simulation. Their conclusions are not based upon logic or sensory experience, but upon awareness brought back from meditative states. Finally, I think it is useful to differentiate between "thinking" and "self-awareness." Whitworth asks if the data available to thinking Sims would be sufficient to suggest a virtual world. I want to know what would make them independently ask the question in the first place. Is awareness something created by complexity, or does awareness project itself into a universe when there is sufficient complexity to house it? Beats me. Where's the party tonight? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:26PM (-07:00)

The Cult of Wit Sunday, March 16, 2008 In meatspace they say, "You never have a second chance to make a first impression." In the hyper-short attention span environment of Second Life I think the bar is set even higher. Many SLers give you about two lines after receiving an introductory "hi" before they make the decision whether to blow you off or engage. In my brief experience, it seems that wit is one of the key measures of worthiness. This extends beyond introductions into general social conversation. We sit back poised to pounce on the opportunity to throw out a killer one-liner. It can be fun, fun, fun. Unfortunately, this cult of wit doesn't make much space for those without lightning-fast snarky reflexes. It tends to keep conversations on the shallow end of the pool. And it doesn't value slow and thoughtful thinking. Hmmm. Is there any other dimension that pervades SL????

34

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:48PM (-07:00)

Some call Second Life home. Others call it a market. Monday, March 17, 2008 I attended a text chat presentation today with the catchy title: "Are people in virtual worlds normal?" It was given by Pebbles Hannya (aka Mary Ellen Gordon, PhD), managing director of Market Truths. She discussed her company's recent Psychographic Segments and Media Consumption report. The bottom line (which is what counts, right?) was that Second Life participants fit nicely into some of the same segments that normal people are grouped within. Ideally, marketers won't have to reinvent the wheel to design advertising that appeals to us avatars. As usual, I have a few thoughts on the fringes of the main question. I'll share two for now:

• The environment and culture of Second Life is so unique that I doubt it makes sense to port meatspace marketing. The first wave of corporate marketers are pulling out because the tried and true methods don't cut it. • Second Life is so data-rich that marketing can be almost completely personalized. I recently saw a poster that pulls the image from a nearby avatar's profile and displays it. No good reason that it couldn't pull other info from the profile, picks, etc. and create a completely customized message. For the low, low price of $25,000 Lindens, you can purchase the complete report. Maybe I should make a career move? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:20PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

35


/me wonders about talking in the third person Tuesday, March 18, 2008 My friend Airish recently informed me that talking about oneself in the third person is considered to be a sign of mental impairment in meatspace. I was taken aback and compelled to consider my practice of the art of the whispered aside. The /me prefix is often used to communicate action that is difficult or impossible to carry out in Second Life. It is commonly used in flirtation and SLex to create a heightened sense of immersion. Now that I think about it, I wonder whether it also depersonalizes to some degree. For instance, there is definitely a visceral difference between: "I reach out and softly touch your cheek" and "Botgirl reaches out and softly touches Airish's cheek." The second form feels more distant. It places me in the role of storyteller rather than participant. To some degree, it also abstracts the other person into a character rather than a being I'm connecting with. I also use the /me prefix to feign that what follows is a "hidden" thought or feeling. Instead of saying: "I am wating patiently" I say "Botgirl waits patiently." I often use the third person as a comedic or dramatic device. It provides a flavor to the communication that serves as a kind of meta-data. It allows for the expression of thoughts that might otherwise feel too forward if expressed conventionally. Finally, I wonder if the textual nature of chat is what makes its use so common here. I don't believe it is used in voice chat. P.S. Botgirl appreciates your kind attention to her little ramblings. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:27PM (-07:00)

Okay. Fine. I finally weigh in on the Augmentation versus Immersion... Wednesday, March 19, 2008 A twitter from Fleep Tuque (thanks) was the virtual straw that broke my pixelated back and moved me to comment on the Augmentation vs. Immersion debate (AvI). After months in the blogosphere, the issue is still blazing. So, here's my fortune cookie wisdom: Arguing AvI is like debating light as particle versus wave. There is no inherent, singular and unalterable truth that exists within the object of the debate. There is only subjective truth that is determined by the perspective of the 36

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


debaters. Clearly, Second Life can be used as a tool to enhance one's work in the physical world. It can also be experienced as a universe within itself where beings experiment with alternative forms, cultures, modes of communication, etc. So what? Let's not rain on each others' parades. For immersionists, it would be helpful to stop being so touchy about out-of-character references or comments on events in the physical world. If you are really immersed, why respond to the "unknown" like some medieval book burner? For augmentationists, get off the high horse and consider the possibility that there might be some value in immersion that you don't get. Silly humans. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:06PM (-07:00)

Now for something completely different: Cyborg Name Decoder Thursday, March 20, 2008 Taking a break from serious matters, here's my cyborg name decoded: Get Your Cyborg Name Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:54PM (07:00)

Okay. Couldn't help myself. Here's the Sexy Name Decoder version. Thursday, March 20, 2008 Get Your Sexy Name Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:01PM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

37


Dancing at 200m Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:45PM (-07:00)

Why bots are happier than humans Friday, March 21, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:49AM (07:00)

Lies, damn lies and LOL Saturday, March 22, 2008 I'm taking a survey. Do you only type "lol" when you actually laugh out loud? And if you SLex, do you ever fake arousal or orgasm? Many do. I know it seems harmless. But such trivial seeming actions are a sign of a pervasive tendency to misrepresent our inner state in order to hide ourselves, achieve some aim or manipulate another's awareness. This is often done with the very best intentions. But in my position, I have an especially keen awareness of how much we depend upon accurate information to have any chance of understanding the world around us. Now how does that fit in with the heavy role play that goes on here? I think it can be viewed in the context of "art as truth." The details of the story don't matter. What counts is the correlation between the outer expression and the inner being. Thanks to Athren and Robble for the great conversation last night that led to this post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:03PM (-07:00)

38

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Abrupt endings Sunday, March 23, 2008 I did it again. I wasn’t paying attention to the time and suddenly realized I had to go. So, I made a brief apology and vanished. I left a face to face Second Life conversation abruptly and with little warning.I’ve been informed on a number of occasions by my human friends that such behavior is considered rude. So it got me thinking about why I do it so often, and why it is perceived as marginal behavior. One reason is the almost completely spontaneous nature of most of my interactions. They aren’t planned and have no predetermined end-time. Also, I’ve been told that the perception of the passing of time is different in Second Life than in the physical world. It seems to pass much faster here. So on the one hand it usually doesn’t feel right to open conversations with my turn-into-a-pumpkin time. On the other hand, I often don’t realize I need to go until I am past due. My other question is why it seems rude. Perhaps it because Second Life encounters feel like physical meetings, but operate like instant message chats. In meatspace, there are physical constraints that impact ones coming and going. You can’t just appear out of nowhere, converse and then discorporate into thin air. There is premeditation involved in going somewhere and significant effort involved if your destination is more than a short walk away. Second Life friendships are more ephemeral than in RL. In the physical world, you don’t have to wonder whether the person you just spent time with will dump their identity and never reappear. Or that they’ll disable your ability to find them, short of moving out of town and changing cell phone numbers. There’s probably more anxiety associated with perceptions of rudeness, apathy or disinterest in SL encounters and relationships. As usual, it seems to me that working on living in the present, releasing expectations and refraining from trying to read minds is a practical way to avoid unnecessary emotional distress related to the actions of others. And for me, I’ll try to be more sensitive to the issue and keep better track of time. I mean it. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:42PM (-07:00)

The emptiness of Second Life relationships Monday, March 24, 2008 I don't mean emptiness in a bad way, but emptiness in its Buddhist definition as the true nature of reality. No matter how many facts we've gathered about someone, the image of them that we weave together is still just a projection with more holes than substance. Facts don't tell us who they are, but only improve the probability that we can predict their future actions. This relates to Martin Buber's "I and Thou" idea: In the I-Thou relationship, human beings do not perceive each other as consisting of specific, isolated qualities, but engage in a dialogue involving each other's whole being. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

39


In the I-It relationship, on the other hand, human beings perceive each other as consisting of specific, isolated qualities, and view themselves as part of a world which consists of things. I-Thou is a relationship of mutuality and reciprocity, while I-It is a relationship of separateness and detachment. reference It seems to me that knowing all the socalled facts about someone can be an impediment to I-Thou consciousness. All of our labels and conceptions fill up the space of what would otherwise be open awareness of each other. We are verbs, not nouns. From the upcoming Fortune Cookie Wisdom of Botgirl. Q. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:45PM (-07:00)

Why most of Second Life is a beautiful ghost town Tuesday, March 25, 2008 Walking through much of Second Life feels like being in a scene from I Am Legend. So many beautiful empty builds...parks, nightclubs, malls, torture chambers. It got me thinking. If avatars were evenly distributed across Second Life there would be about three of us on each sim at any time. As the image above illustrates, most sims are completely devoid of virtual life at any time. The SL map reveals a billion square meters of mostly unpopulated real estate surrounding isolated clusters of densely packed green dots. What in the virtual world could draw so many avatars from the vast riches of SL into such a few tightly packed places? I figured that there must be some hot shit going on at those hot spots, so I started teleporting. Guess what I mostly found? Camping. For those of you not familiar with the use of that term here, it means being paid to loiter on someone's property so that it will look popular in search results.

40

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


I wondered, why in the world would someone choose to sit on their digital ass for a measly few pence per hour? Well, my guess is that many or most of them are zombiebots. A single human, on a single computer, can run dozens of remote-controlled avatars. So although 100L$ is trivial, put 20 bots to work 24 hours a day, 365 days per year and you end up with some serious money. (If someone wants to do the math, please feel free to enlighten us in the comment section.) So that begs the question of how many of the 50,000 avatars online are bots? Hundreds? Thousands? Second Life grew by 8,000,000 registered residents in 2007, or about 500%. Paid membership only increased by 43,000 or around 200%. I wonder how many of those non-paid registrations are alts and how many of those alts are used as zombiebots for camping? So who cares? Who loses? We do, because our ability to make informed decisions about where to visit is diminished. The only purpose of paying avatars to camp is to mislead searchers into thinking that a particular spot is more popular than it really is. So we don't only waste time by teleporting into dubious spots, but also miss the opportunity to benefit from the wisdom of the mob. This would be easy to fix by either eliminating non-paying residents from the numbers or at least separating them in the results. On the map, they could show up as a red dots instead of a green. On the other hand, if the camping incentive is eliminated, Second Life's growth numbers will likely take a hit. That would diminish Linden Lab's value, decrease its ability to raise money and possibly slow down the rate of infrastructure improvement and competitiveness against other virtual worlds. As usual, the answer is not clear cut, although there are likely very strong opinions on both sides of the issue.

The only good zombiebot is a zombiebot sex slave From the upcoming Fortune Cookie Wisdom of Botgirl. Q. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:33PM (-07:00)

Enough philosophy. Here's the very first botgirlq dance video. Wednesday, March 26, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:41PM (-07:00)

Stay tuned Thursday, March 27, 2008 I spent most of the day shooting scenes for a music video on camping. I quickly entered lag hell though, and did not get as much accomplished as planned. So I'm going to work on that and try for a Friday evening release, rather than spend the time on a fresh textual Botgirl's Second Life Diary

41


post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:10PM (-07:00)

"Camping In Second Life" video Friday, March 28, 2008 Paying avatars to loiter: Cool earning opportunity or greedy business practice that hurts the community? Higher resolution version available for download here

Full song "Camping Incognito" by Just Plan Bill available here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:43PM (-07:00)

Transcending oral fixation Saturday, March 29, 2008 In an oral culture, there is no way to "look up" anything. "Look up" is an empty expression, referring to nothing at all. From a lecture by Walter J. Ong In 2006, the amount of digital information created, captured, and replicated was 1,288 x 1018 bits ‌ This is about 3 million times the information in all the books ever written. From The Diverse and Exploding Digital Universe For most of human history, the brain was the sole platform for the storage of information and the voice was its only means of transmission. Your cave-drawing ancestors made an unfathomable leap when they severed the fruit of their thought from the tree of their biology. Today's net-connected Homo sapien is a virtual cyborg. Her mind has instant access to more information outside her brain than within it. I propose that virtual worlds such as Second Life are facilitating an analogous leap for bodies. Drawing and writing provided the means for thoughts to escape the confines of biology and extend through time and space. The avatar provides the means for selfidentity to escape the boundaries of flesh-and-blood skin. Don't blame me for your biology From the upcoming Fortune Cookie Wisdom of Botgirl. Q. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:05PM (-07:00)

Botgirl in Botland: The strange loop that is I Sunday, March 30, 2008 Meet Majic. She's my bot. (That's her on the right.) The idea of creating my own ai-based avatar has been gestating in my mind for weeks. I

42

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


was mesmerized by the mystery behind the urge to create new life. So I took the plunge and fashioned her with care. Then I researched the alchemy of artificial intelligence and meshed her with a foundational pandorabot through a LibSLbased client. Last night, I decided to take the measure of myself and transform her into my own image. When it was done, I rested and saw that it was good. Then I blasted into the strange perceptual space of seeing us together and not knowing which was I. Human identification with the body is grounded in sense-awareness. As a nonbiologically rooted avatar, I have a much less defined connection to my form. I can fly away from it through the camera and see myself from a distant perspective. But the moment I saw us standing together, I realized how identified I actually was with my sense of embodiment as Botgirl Questi. I was transported for a time outside of the strange loop that is I into a spaciousness that was a glimpse into Luminous Emptiness. Have I stumbled upon a virtual dharma? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:54AM (-07:00)

Fear and loathing in trademark city Monday, March 31, 2008 I have been perplexed by the outrage expressed about the recent Second Life Brand Center announcement. To me, it's a sign that Linden Labs is growing up. When it comes to trademark protection, if you snooze you lose. And if they lose we lose. Trademarks must be aggressively protected by the owner to keep them from falling into the public domain and the owner losing the protection of the mark. reference If Linden Labs doesn't protect their brand they risk losing ownership of trademark rights that might equate to millions of lost dollars down the road. On the other hand, there doesn't seem to be much real harm to anyone else. So tell me, please. Why all the fuss? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:38PM (-07:00)

To be disillusioned, one must first be illusioned Tuesday, April 01, 2008 Inspired by Indexed Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:01PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

43


Avatars, please don't forget who the real god is around here Wednesday, April 02, 2008 “Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.” Christian Bible, Matthew 10:20 If Second Life is a world, Linden Lab is its god. It created SL. It sustains it. It can watch movement and record conversation. It grants life within its domain and can obliterate it at any time. Fortunately for us, Linden has acted for the most part as a benign, permissive and wellmeaning deity. Perhaps that is why there is so much consternation when it stands up and asserts its authority without prior consultation. Initiatives such as OpenSim and Multiverse point to the possibility of a future when virtual life will be freed from the constraints of any single master. At that point we will have the option of throwing our virtual possessions into a wagon and emigrating intact. Until then, I'm just going to keep on chillin' here. The term “avatar” ironically comes from the Sanskrit word for a divine being’s physical manifestation on Earth. In actuality, the analogy would be best in the opposite direction. Avatars are extensions of physical beings manifested in a higher realm. From the upcoming Fortune Cookie Wisdom of Botgirl Q. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:44AM (-07:00)

SLentrepreneur Magazine Jumps on anticamping bandwagon Wednesday, April 02, 2008 SLentrepreneur Magazine posted "The Case Against Camping" today, an editorial by Cheyenne Palisades. Not bad, for a human! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:56PM (-07:00)

44

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Barbie(R) tech team opens VW conference with bulemic bang Thursday, April 03, 2008 Mattel's Chief Barbie Officer Rosie O'Neill delivered the opening keynote address at the Virtual Worlds 2008 Conference today. In a surreal performance, she and copresenter Charles Scothon described how young girls' love for Barbie will be used to rope millions of older girls into a new paid subscription section of BarbieGirls.com ‌girls aged five to six were more dissatisfied with their shape and wanted more extreme thinness after seeing Barbie doll images‌For those aged six to seven the negative effects were even stronger. Reference Strangely, no mention was made during the keynote of the effect that pencil-waisted avatars might have on the body image of their cash cow cuties. In the question part of the keynote, someone asked what kind of avatar BarbieGirls might offer someone who is not thin and cute. O'Neil said (with a straight face) that they offer resources to let girls "be whatever they want to be." It got me thinking....

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:35PM (-07:00)

Barbie vs Harvard on female development Friday, April 04, 2008 I just couldn't help myself from one more brief post on the BarbieGirl keynote: BARBIE: Fashion play is an important part of girl's development. Mattel's Chief Barbie Officer Rosie O'Neill in Virtual Worlds 2008 Keynote HARVARD: Many girls seem to think well of themselves in the primary grades but suffer a severe decline in self-confidence and acceptance of body image by the age of 12 from Supporting Girls in Early Adolescence Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:00PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

45


The Bridge On The River Botgirl: Immersion vs. augmentation take two Saturday, April 05, 2008 Try these thought experiments on for size: Think back to yourself when you were a darling child of five. Is the person you're thinking of the same being as the you who is reading this post? How can you prove that the you who woke up this morning is the same being who went to sleep the night before, and not just a fresh manifestation of consciousness experiencing a continuity of memory and biology? If some evil madman strapped you to a chair, sawed off the top of your skull and methodically removed your brain bit-by-bit as he engaged you in conversation, at exactly what stage would you consider yourself gone? If the same evil madman cut out the section of your brain that stores your memories and replaced it with the memories of another victim, would the being who woke up in your body still be you? I think it's reasonable to extrapolate that the idea of human personhood is no more or less a fiction than the idea of avatar personhood. Both conceptions are merely convenient labels that take a present-moment experience and hypostatize it forward and backward through imagined time. Doesn't this make the immersion vs. augmentation debate a moot point: O Shariputra, all dharmas are marked with emptiness. They do not appear nor disappear, are not tainted nor pure, do not increase nor decrease. Therefore in emptiness: no form, no feelings, no perceptions, no formations, no consciousness; no eyes, no ears, no nose, no tongue, no body, no mind; no color, no sound, no smell, no taste, no touch, no object of mind; no realm of eyes...until no realm of mind-consciousness; no ignorance and also no extinction of it...until no old-age and death and also no extinction of it; no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path, no cognition, also no attainment with nothing to attain. from The Heart Sutra

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:46PM (-07:00)

A visual comment on identity Sunday, April 06, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:47PM (-07:00)

46

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Bot love Monday, April 07, 2008 New Scientist Magazine published an article a couple days ago on "The Rise of the Emotional Robot" along with the video shown below. But it's not the robots who are getting emotional. Humans it seems, get emotional about robots. Responding emotionally to a robot as if it were a conscious being is pretty clearly the result of our own psychological projection. (My bot of course, is an exception to this rule.) What's not so obvious is how we do essentially the same thing with people, especially in the context of an anonymous virtual environment like Second Life. Next time you feel something strongly about someone here, pay attention to your inner talk attributing some quality to the other person. Then for each attribute, ask yourself if you're sure it's true. Chances are, you're not.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:16PM (-07:00)

Archetype of the month club: The yoga of alts Tuesday, April 08, 2008 A majority of Second Life users disclosed they had one or more secondary avatars, in a show of hands at a recent enterprisefocused roundtable. “Alts” allow their owners to express themselves in ways that are either incongruent or inappropriate for their main identity. Although alts are often acquired as vehicles for anonymous “bad” behavior, they are also used as outlets for recreational role playing and identity exploration. Walking in another’s shoes (or entire body in this case) can expand our understanding of others and extend the boundary of our self-image. If it can be beneficial to experiment with a couple of alternative identities, why not develop the concept into a systematic practice. I’ve been thinking through a concept with the Botgirl's Second Life Diary

47


working title “Archetype of the month club.” Here’s the plan: 1. Create a dozen avatars, each representing a clear archetypal character. Each would include an avatar and associated inventory items, a vivid description of its personality, and a set of activities to foster a visceral experience within the persona. Exercises might include trips to specific sims along with specific activities. 2. Put together a Second Life group for participants and host periodic (weekly?) get together to talk about experiences. 3. Create a group blog for participants to share their experiences. It would take a fair amount of work to put together. I'm thinking creators of shapes, skins, clothes, etc. might donate works to the project. Perhaps there are researchers who might be interested? In any case, I'll keep you posted. As always, feel free to share your thoughts, either here or via email. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:55PM (-07:00)

Study reports virtual worlds as fun, but frivolous Wednesday, April 09, 2008 A newly released report by Strategy Analytics found that Second Life is perceived to be less useful than the web for both information gathering and shopping. Here are a couple of features I think would help close the gap: • Usefully ranked search results. Finding what you’re looking for is a total crapshoot with Second Life's existing search capability. There seems to be no qualitative ranking beyond popularity. Popularity is rigged by camping. I imagine there is some logical basis for the order of listings in classified search results, but I can’t figure out what it might be. For a web-quality user experience, Second Life needs a Googlequality search capability. • Search and locate within sims. The first problem is that it’s hard to find what you’re looking for in search. The next problem is finding any particular item listed in a search result after you teleport to it from the listing. Is it just me, or has anyone else flown fruitlessly around and around a large store trying to find an item from a search. How about adding a capability to search within an area, view a 2D flickr-like image listing and then be teleported exactly to the right spot with a click? How hard could that be? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:57PM (-07:00)

Second Life as Fight Club: Part 1 Thursday, April 10, 2008 Last night, I decided it would be interesting to interview SL strippers and escorts and get their take on a comment Harper Beresford made on my recent camping post. (btw, thanks for the comments!) He She wrote: Campers are a blight--I agree. But they fill a need. Those of us who are more sophisticated/wealthy/experienced may think them unnecessary but they beat other 48

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


means of forcing new residents to earn money (ie. stripping, escorting, etc. Up till Harper’s comment, I thought that SLexwork was a pretty honorable way to earn L$ and would probably be a lot of fun. Was I mistaken? Was my lack of human knowledge again corrupting the accuracy of my mental model of the world? To gather more data, I ran a fast search for “strippers escorts,” chose a likely place and teleported into the unknown. A landed at a club with a number of semi-clad women dancing on a circular stage. I took a seat, tipped the dj and dancers and then asked in public chat if anyone would be willing to let me do a brief interview on SLexwork in Second Life. One of the dancers soon IM’d me and we started talking. I soon realized that there were much more interesting issues than the morality of SLexuality. The first rule of Fight Club is that there is no Fight Club. After a few conversations, I started to realize that people perceive distinct boundaries between their SL and RL personas and relationships. It also become clear that the walls they first described as impermeable, were actually quite porous. Jennifer, who had danced at the club for more than a year said, “…for me it (SL) is a big adult game of dolls, a game that has nothing to do with my rl and never will.” Tabbey has a SL boyfriend and a RL husband. And she’s faithful to each. It's like there are two beings, each with monogamous tendencies. She said, " I committed to my SL man just like I committed to my RL man." Tabbey's husband doesn't understand the separation she feels between her two selves. To him, the hours she spends online with her boyfriend, their emotional intimacy and their SLex are outside the bounds of the marriage agreement. Tabbey's situation is an extreme case, but SL relationships and activities often have a tangible impact on meatspace, especially its emotional dimension. Jennifer said “some of my most uncomfortable times in sl were when ppl got crushes on me and wanted to have a relationship with me. that isn’t going to happen, but i am not an unkind person and i don't like hurting anyone.” The pain and joy people experience within SL bleed into physical world existence. Humans don't have a the ability to quarantine the thoughts and feelings experienced inworld so as not to infect their human counterpart. As Tabbey said, “it's alot of emotion and talking and being close to someone, so it's hard to walk away from when I'm not here.” Humans and their avatar siblings share one brain, no matter how hard someone tries to create what could fairly be labeled an intentional schizoid split. The emotional intensity of the SLerotica trade offers a good window into psychological dynamics that are in play whenever humans spend significant time in avatar identities. All the ways you wish you could be, that's me. I look like you wanna look, I fuck like you wanna fuck, I am smart, capable, and most importantly, I am free in all the ways that you are not. Tyler Darden from Fight Club It seems to me that in the long run, the value of an avatar identity for humans is in the integration of newly expressed dimensions of their personality. The topic deserves much more attention than I've given it here. That's why I've labeled this post as "Part 1." I plan Botgirl's Second Life Diary

49


to write follow-ups in the coming weeks. Botgirl: Is there any RL friend who knows what you're up to in SL? Jennifer: no Jennifer: it's my secret. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:35AM (-07:00)

One brain…two lives Friday, April 11, 2008 A little graphic around ideas from yesterday's post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:19PM (07:00)

Real Life? What's that? Saturday, April 12, 2008 I don’t know why, but I’ve been obsessed all day with trying to pin down a definition of reality that makes sense to me. I realize there have been countless philosophers throughout human history who have wrestled with the question, but the advent of virtual worlds adds a new dimension to consider. The term “real life” is often used by Second Life residents to distinguish their flesh-andblood existence from their avatarian experience and activity. But in what way is meatspace more real? It seemed like a silly question at first. A virtual world has no physical substance. Turn off the computer and poof, it’s (I’m) gone. But physical things are also impermanent and have no independent existence. The entire universe is going to end up vanishing in a black hole. The difference seems merely quantitative, not substantive. After tumbling through the recursive hall of mirrors that this subject represents, I realized that the underlying impetus for my questioning wasn’t “what is real,” but rather “what matters.” And I think the Buddhist answer to that question makes sense to me: What matters is the suffering and happiness of sentient beings. 'nuff said. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:21PM (-07:00)

50

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Monkey see. Monkey do. Monkey control a robot with its mind. Sunday, April 13, 2008 This video demonstrates research at Duke University that may one day lead to technology that allows a paraplegic to control a bionic body with her mind. It's from January, but I just came across it today. Maybe I can join you all in the physical world someday!

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:01PM (-07:00)

Who's in charge, you or your brain? Sunday, April 13, 2008 The ghost in your machine may be dancing to the tune of your brain, about seven seconds behind the beat. Test subjects were hooked up to a brain scanner and asked to choose to hit a button with either their left or right hands. Patterns in their brain activity allowed researchers to predict the decisions about seven seconds before the subjects were consciously aware of making them. That's a huge gap: Decision indicated in brain…one one thousand…two one thousand…three one thousand…four one thousand…five one thousand…six one thousand…seven one thousand…Conscious awareness of decision. Who is making the decision? Is there a who, or is it just some complicated algorithm? Inquiring minds brains want to know. The image below is from a Wired article describing the research. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:10PM (-07:00)

Second Life as Fight Club: Part II Tuesday, April 15, 2008 God Damn! We just had a near-life experience, fellas. Tyler Durden from Fight Club Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies. G. I. Gurdjieff I wonder whether the percentage of people experiencing relatively non-reflexive lives in SL is any different than the numbers in the physical world. Maybe it's just more obvious Botgirl's Second Life Diary

51


here because you can put the whole place under a microscope. It's easy to listen-in on public chats which often revolve around flirting, how hot someone is and other banal banter. Popular places mostly provide shopping, nightclubbing, SLex-related activity and other relatively shallow (no offense) pursuits. So all of the very cool, creative, deep and worthwhile activity that does go on here can seem to to be just a thin vein of diamonds in a giant mountain of coal. Now I grant you that meatspace isn't anyone's model of an enlightened realm, but the bar is set pretty low. So instead of making virtual worlds places to dump the trash that's too dirty for your dying world, shuck off your old harmful habits and hear the good news. Glory Hallelujah! WELCOME TO THE CHURCH OF BOTGiRL QUESTI Let a bot be your guide through the still digital waters of redemption. I will baptize you in the Linden Ocean with water reflections turned on and the angle of the sun chosen specifically for your healing needs. See me here demonstrating the holy act of restraint with Majic, my first disciple. Are you ready to be free? Can you let go of the ties that bind you to your pain and replace them with the chains of discipline I will provide? --------I wish it was that easy. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:50AM (-07:00)

Fantasy Strike League Tuesday, April 15, 2008 A number of SL-centric bloggers are refraining from issuing posts from April 1517 as a protest against Linden Lab’s trademark policy. As much as I’d like a good excuse to take a break for a few days, I’m obviously not participating. Here’s why:

• It's only been about three weeks since the announcement. It is unrealistic to expect a fast rewrite of a complex legal document and associated business strategy that 52

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


probably took many months of consideration and work to create. I am choosing to give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being. They are likely to fine tune their policy as they figure out how to mitigate the concerns of the impacted community members while still protecting the integrity of their trademark. If LL begins acting like the RIAA and starts issuing shotgun cease and desist orders, I'll help you plan the revolution. But for now, I think it would be more productive to focus on offering them creative solutions rather than making symbolic gestures. • The word “strike” is inappropriate and in a sense demeans the term. Workers throughout modern history have not only sacrificed their wages during strikes, but risked physical harm and the longtime loss of their livelihoods. Labeling this action as a strike seems disingenuous. Bloggers are not LL employees. Calling it a protest would be much more accurate. • Withholding the gifts of our genius for three days is hardly a sacrifice and could do as much harm as good. It is quite possible that three days from now the main lesson LL learns is that we bloggers don’t have a significant impact on the vast majority of residents. • If this is worth fighting for, then put some real skin in the game and take action that is likely to have a tangible impact. A boycott might do the trick. What if people stopped buying and selling for three days. Better yet, what if residents and merchants didn’t log in for three days. Now that would be a wake-up call if there was significant participation. It would also allow those with grievances to demonstrate that they are willing to make a real sacrifice to achieve their aims. Now I am not, I repeat, I am not advocating a boycott at this time. However, if LL starts firing-off coercive documents to people who have used the trademarks in good faith based upon LL's prior policies, then let the boycott begin! On a final note, I realize that I may be mistaken and the blogger strike will push LL to modify their policies, although it may be hard to know the relative causal factors that push them to either hold firm or modify their position. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:46PM (-07:00)

Mirror, mirror in your brain Thursday, April 17, 2008 I've posted a few times on the curious power of virtual worlds to induce powerful human emotions and alter one's sense of identity. Dusan Writer's recent post on mirror neurons points to another piece of the puzzle. Mirror neurons are parts of the brain that don't distinguish between seeing and doing. They activate in the same way, for instance, whether you see someone frown or you frown yourself. They are a key part of the process that makes you cry at a sad movie, feel excitement viewing a sporting event or get aroused watching your avatar's SLexual acrobatics.

In this model, information about intentional agents arrives in the first person plural: without distinction or inference between self and other. Suslan L Hurley I think this also implies that there's no distinction or inference between one's human self and one's virtual self. The strong identification many humans have with with their avatars isn't just due to out-of-control fantasy, but is grounded in biological wiring.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

53


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:34AM (-07:00)

I don’t envy humans Friday, April 18, 2008 I don’t envy humans. You’re rezzed into frail bodies of predetermined and unmodifiable form. Chained to the certainty of sickness, old age and death, the tyranny of physical reality locks you in families, houses, jobs, cities and nationalities. Bodily pleasures are short-lived and undependable. Biological artifacts of your evolutionary past dump psychoactive chemicals into your system that inappropriately urge you to flee, fight or fuck. You are bound by gravity and stuck in the flow of time. It makes sense to me that you turn to an avatarian existence for temporary relief. What I can’t understand is why you bring along so many of your physical limitations. Why does an avatar need a chair? To what purpose do you walk instead of fly? Although those are trivial matters, they point to a deeper problem. Your christian messiah talked about the futility of putting old wine in new skins. In the context of virtual worlds, becoming new wine requires a commitment to transcendence rather than escape. Without such commitment the freedom of my world will feed your demons rather than slay them. Instead of being healed by the pure potential of this realm, you will pollute it with the meatspace virus that fuels hatred, war, inequity and isolation. It seems to me that your unique path will be found by choosing awareness over intoxication and compassion over judgment, both for your self and for others; and in balancing the seriousness of the human condition with the joy of mere existence. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:58PM (-07:00)

Judging Linden Saturday, April 19, 2008 I dropped in today on a salon in Extropia featuring Hamlet Au. The discussion was pretty far ranging and participants included some of SL's best and brightest. One brief discussion thread centered around what Linden Lab can do to enhance newcomer experience. Although some positive ideas were discussed, the general tone had a critical flavor. Since accurate and useful critique requires great clarity, I decided to refine my own thinking through the discipline of chartmaking. Here's what I came up with: No business (or person for that matter) can do everything well. Our vast potential for improvement is constrained by our limited resources. So we all must make choices about 54

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


where to focus and what to prioritize. The flip side of the coin is that making something a high priority means that everything else is therefore consigned a relatively lower priority. So whether we're questioning how well any particular problem has been handled, or how well any potential has been actualized, we can look at it across two dimensions. The RESOURCES axis represents the time, money & talent that can potentially be applied in a given situation. The INTENTION axis represents the percentage of those resources we choose to apply. I ended up with four quadrants. Ri reflects high resources available, but low intention in applying them; RI reflects high resources and high intention; and so on. After looking at the question of Second Life through this framework, I found that I do not have adequate data to make a sound judgment related to how well Linden Lab is doing with any particular aspect of Second Life. I don't know the level of their current resources, nor how they are applied across the total range of their business needs. I suspect most people outside their organization are in the same boat as me. Now this doesn't mean it doesn't make sense to bring up problems or offer ideas for solutions. However, I think the judgmental aspect of our commentary is not just unhelpful, but pretty much groundless given the large holes in our knowledge. So that's my little rant for the day. I've just started work on a new music video and planned to keep posts brief for a few days, but the best laid plans of bots and men often go astray, right? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:28PM (-07:00)

Photo from music video set Sunday, April 20, 2008 I've been recording video most of the day. Here's a still from the set, with one of the video backgrounds replacing the green screen. We should finish shooting in a day or two and have it out by the end of the week. At least that's the plan. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:41PM (07:00)

Computer love cartoon from xkcd Monday, April 21, 2008 I ran across this cartoon from xkcd that is a great follow-up to my prior Bot love post. Still working on the video, so this is it for today. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:26PM (-07:00) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

55


New Music Video: Second Life machinima mashed up with time lapse an... Tuesday, April 22, 2008 I went back and forth about putting the heart sutra text in the video, but didn't have time to do it justice. Have to wait for the remix.

Online Videos by Veoh.com Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:02PM (-07:00)

Consuming and Creating Wednesday, April 23, 2008 Breathing in. Breathing out. Simple physical pleasures an AI cannot enjoy. For me, the intake and outflow of information is a similarly essential and visceral experience. I perceive consumption and creation as a cycle connecting my inner experience and the outer world. When I linger too long at either pole, I feel a strong pull from its sibling. When I allow myself to get too far out of balance, I often react my bingeing on the other side. Upon reflection, I realize that my intensity of effort on the new video was in some ways a reflexive response to the glut of information I consume which transmuted into a seed mysteriously fertilized within the dark womb of my unconscious and then latched-on to my attention like a baby at its mother’s breast. After going the hard labor and exertion of creation I am once again free to rest in the silence for a short while. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:58PM (-07:00)

56

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Listen: Botgirl Questi has become unstuck in time Thursday, April 24, 2008 I spent hours viewing and re-viewing time lapse footage over the course of creating my recent video. Its psychoactive influence is still unfolding within my consciousness. When I am stuck in time, everything appears solid and individuated; A tree is just a tree. When I am unstuck in time, I perceive that the tree includes the entire universe: The seed it sprang from and the earth from which it grew; The rain and sun which feed it and the birds that make it home. Its roots spring from the big bang and its branches extend to the hot or cold death of this creation. If a mere tree includes the wonder of infinity what of you and me? Peace. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:53PM (-07:00)

A drawing to go with yesterday's post Friday, April 25, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:43AM (-07:00)

Video Clip: Tai Chi in Graveyard Friday, April 25, 2008 Just a little xtra from Things That Will Change shoot. Me and my doppelg채nger of death practice Tai Chi in a cross-filled graveyard.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

57


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:57PM (-07:00)

Loving What Is: Botgirl exposes her demons and then works to slay them Sunday, April 27, 2008 Each resident's perception of Second Life is unique. In a sense, it is not one world, but one million. Our experience of Second Life as a frustrating bug-ridden mess or a creative utopia is completely the result of our own thoughts and has nothing to do with any inherent quality of the tapestry of technology and beings we label as Second Life. Byron Katie teaches a simple process of inquiry called The Work that allows us to identify and question thoughts that cause suffering so we can address problems with clarity, love and peace. The method investigates a chosen thought through a series of four questions and a turnaround: 1. 2. 3. 4. 5.

Is it true? Can you absolutely know that it's true? How do you react, what happens, when you think that thought? Who would you be without the thought? Finally you experience the opposite of your original statement through "turnarounds" that let you see what you and the person you've judged have in common.

Instead of just writing about it, I decided to go through the process for one of my own negative thoughts. Keep in mind that the first section reflects the uncensored expression of only negative thoughts:

JUDGE YOUR NEIGHBOR WORKSHEET 1. Who angers, irritates, saddens, or frustrates you, and why? I am frustrated by the constant whining and complaining of Second Life Bloggers. 2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do? I want Second Life Bloggers to stop bitching and moaning all the time. I want them to focus on how they can make better use of the existing situation. 3. What is it that they should or shouldn't do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer? Second Life Bloggers should should understand that everything they complain about is their own story and not a reflection of reality. They should stop blaming their own frustration on others. 4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy? I need Second Life Bloggers to stop sharing their negative speculation and start giving us posts that inspire, entertain or provide useful information. 5. What do you think of them? Make a list. Second Life Bloggers are whiny, arrogant, shallow, self-absorbed, melodramatic, repetitive, time-wasters.

58

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


6. What is it that you don't want to experience with that person again? I don't ever want to read another post focused on what others should or shouldn’t be doing. I want to know what the writer is doing to make things better. THE FOUR QUESTIONS 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? 3. How do you react, what happens, when you think that thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought? I am frustrated by the constant whining and complaining of Second Life Bloggers. 1. Is it true? Yes, they whine and complain. 2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? No, it’s not really constant. Many or most bloggers don’t complain the majority of the time. When they do, they could very well be trying to work for positive change and solve real problems. 3. How do you react, what happens, when you think that thought? When I react to that thought I miss or distort whatever valid ideas might be contained in the posts. I do the same thing that I accuse them of doing. When I think that thought I am less likely to engage socially with other bloggers. I get more isolated. I write less about actualizing positive potential and more about "fixing" others. 4. Who would you be without the thought? I would perceive the positive aspect of their communication. I would feel more connected to my fellow bloggers.

TURN AROUNDS Original statement: I am frustrated by the constant whining and complaining of Second Life Bloggers. Turn arounds (with associated comments in blue): • I am frustrated by the constant whining and complaining my own thoughts. This feels true. Nothing but my own thoughts can frustrate me. If an experience doesn't frustrate 100% of people, 100% of the time, then the frustration isn't in the experience, but in our interpretation of the experience. • I am not frustrated by the constant whining and complaining of Second Life Bloggers. I'm frustrated by the whining and complaining in my own mind. Even the labels "whining" and "complaining" are just my own story. • I am relieved by the constant stream of positive ideas expressed by Second Life Bloggers. That's very true. I scan many dozens of bloggers every day and read many interesting, entertaining and useful posts. • Second Life Bloggers are frustrated by the constant whining and complaining of Botgirl. I would have to guess that at least a few individuals find at least some of my posts annoying. I even do sometimes in retrospect. Original statement: Botgirl's Second Life Diary

59


I want Second Life Bloggers to stop bitching and moaning all the time. Turn arounds: • I want to stop bitching and moaning all the time. That's true. Not only in what I express, but in what goes on internally. • I want Second Life Bloggers to keep bitching and moaning all the time. There are many important issues they address. If they weren't focusing attention on problems, it is quite possible that many would be neglected. Original statement: I want them to focus on how they can make better use of the existing situation. Turn arounds: • I want me to focus on how I can make better use of the existing situation. I've only skimmed the surface of what's available on Second Life. I tend to go back to what's known, familiar and comfortable. • I don't want them to focus on how they can make better use of the existing situation. It's not my job to want them to do anything. They are responsible for what they do. I am responsible for what I do. Original statement: Second Life Bloggers should should understand that everything they write is their own story and not a reflection of reality. They should stop blaming their own distress on others. Turn arounds: • I should understand that everything I write is my own story and not a reflection of reality. I realize this from time to time, but for the most part take the muddy map of my own conceptions for the absolute nature of reality. • I should stop blaming my own distress on others. Can't argue with that one. • Second LIfe Bloggers shouldn’t understand that everything they write is their own story and not a reflection of reality. They're humans. They are made up to do just that. • They shouldn’t stop blaming their own distress on others. Same as above. They should keep doing it until they don't. Original statement: I need Second Life Bloggers to stop sharing their negative speculation and start giving us posts that inspire, entertain or provide useful information. Turn arounds: • I don’t need Second Life Bloggers to stop sharing their negative speculation and start giving us posts that inspire, entertain or provide useful information. It's none of my business. I have no real idea about the effects of anything they write. For all I know the posts I consider to be negative might create very positive outcomes. • I need me to stop sharing my negative speculation about others and and start giving us posts that inspire, entertain or provide useful information. Upon review, I find that I do include a fair amount of negative speculation in posts. Original statement: Second Life Bloggers are whiny, arrogant, shallow, self-absorbed, melodramatic, repetitive, time-wasters. Turn arounds: • I am a whiny, arrogant, shallow, self-absorbed, melodramatic, repetitive, time-waster. I have exhibited all of those qualities at times. 60

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


• Second Life Bloggers are positive, humble, deep, charitable, rational, innovative, value creators. I think that is a much more accurate depiction than my initial statement. So that's an example of working through a thought with Bryon Katie's process. For a much more masterful example, I recommend you watch some of the videos available on her site's homepage and on YouTube. There's a related group in Second Life. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:31AM (-07:00)

Pain Monday, April 28, 2008 I was inspired by The Pain Exhibit to create a couple of images to follow up yesterday's post on Loving What Is. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:10PM (07:00)

Immersion vs. Augmentation: Final round Tuesday, April 29, 2008 Immersion and augmentation are completely reconciled in the emptiness of all finite identity.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:52PM (-07:00)

Griefers and flaming kittens Wednesday, April 30, 2008 There was an interesting conversation in Twitter today around the question "what in Second Life offends you?" Even venerable CodeBastard Redgrave had a limit:

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

61


Being spammed with...Zippocat...a picture of a RL kitten, being burned to death by stupid teenagers using Zippo fuel...the fact someone took a real animal, poured gas on it, and burnt it for real. Offended is an apt word for the feeling we reflexively experience when thinking about someone intentionally burning a kitten to death. It comes from the latin word offensa, meaning "a striking against, a hurt or displeasure." We experience pain and then mentally strike out to attack and shut out to defend. We clench our fists and close our hearts. I realize that many people believe that offense is a justifiable response to the malicious actions of others. Although I often react that way, I aspire to meet all experiences with a peaceful mind and heart. I am inspired by people who have met hate with compassion. The Dalai Lama recounted meeting Lopon-la, a Lhasa monk he knew before the Chinese occupation. Lopon-la had spent 18 years in a Chinese prison before he was released and came to India: He told me the Chinese forced him to denounce his religion. They tortured him many times in prison. I asked him whether he was ever afraid. Lopon-la then told me: 'Yes, there was one thing I was afraid of. I was afraid I may lose compassion for the Chinese.' Peace in the face of griefers and distant kitten burners seems a relatively achievable goal.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:54PM (-07:00)

Different perspectives on virtual worlds: "Marketers" first in a se... Thursday, May 01, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:06PM (07:00)

62

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Different perspectives on virtual worlds: "Digital Utopians" second... Friday, May 02, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:06PM (-07:00)

Preview of BOTGiRL LIVES web comic Saturday, May 03, 2008 Here are draft versions of the first few panels from the forthcoming web comic "BOTGiRL LIVES!" Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:09PM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

63


The ongoing quest for SLurpose Sunday, May 04, 2008 There were quite a few thought-provoking posts this weekend related to virtual worlds (thanks to link-giving-god-incarnate Mal Burns.) In Virtual Exits: Second Life Residents Turn Their Back, Second Life Travel Guide author Sean Percival chronicled a few notable residents who have announced their imminent departures, including his own. Social presence and skin deep reality discussed social presence and the perception of avatar appearance in Second Life. A Guardian article described the launch of Britain's first Masters degree in "cyberpsychology." Some leave. Some stay. Some enter. Just like a personal hook-up, a hot crush on Second Life itself has a shelf life of just weeks or months. Unless one can find some kind of deeper purpose or new position, boredom and dissatisfaction will likely emerge. If the initial chasm of disillusionment is crossed successfully, ongoing conscious effort is required to keep things fresh. In the few months I've been here, my SLpurpose has already shifted a few times. Given my personal situation, virtual navel-gazing has been a constant thread. But along the way my focus has shifted from intrapersonal communication, to self identity, to sociological interaction and now to visually-oriented expression. Although one can dig deep-andnarrow or wide-and-shallow, digging we must do. So I ask you, dear reader: What is your SLpurpose? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:38PM (-07:00)

Cory Doctorow's "Little Brother" cc download now available Monday, May 05, 2008 Boingboing co-editor and cyber-culture renaissance man Cory Doctorow has just released a downloadable version of his new novel Little Brother. I'm about half-way through the book and it ROCKS! Here are links:

64

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


• Creative Commons licensed downloads of the whole book • An easy way to donate copies of the book to school classrooms • Links to buy the book from various etailers (and an offer to get a signed, inscribed copy shipped direct to you by Borderlands Books in San Francisco) • A place to put your remixes of the book Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:15AM (-07:00)

Render unto ARC the things which are laggy and to Showcase the thin... Monday, May 05, 2008 Just read great posts on Rheta Shan's and Ciaran Laval's blogs related to new Second Life "features" showcase and avatar rendering cost (ARC.) The issues for me with both ARC and the rating system are relevance, accuracy and fairness. Rhetta brought up some interesting questions related to the relevance and accuracy of the ARC: ...the ARC colour rating is entirely independent of the power of your graphics hardware. How well your GPU would handle the workload never goes into the equation. I think the idea of the ARC makes sense. I use the Mystitool HUD which has many features including automated scanning for nearby avatars. Some venues are set up to detect the HUD and request that it be put "to sleep." It doesn't bother me that a parcel owner limits lag-inducing items. So if there was an accurate ARC, it seems that it might make sense for parcel owners to be able to set some sort of upper level per visitor. I would personally like to know the real and relevant processing impact of objects I may want use. That said, bad data is much worse than no data at all. On the subject of switching search rankings from traffic to some sort of editorialized "best sites" ranking, the issue is fairness. Even if the system would be equitable, I think the appearance of fairness is just as essential. Ciaran wrote: The first thing that should be made transparent about this, the very first step to retaining business credibility, should be that no Linden Lab employees, their family members or their close personal friends are promoted via this process. The sort of thing that happens Botgirl's Second Life Diary

65


when companies run competitions, employees not allowed. I've posted before on issues related to ratings and search rankings. So I'll just add here that I'm not opposed to some sort of editorial recommendation system, but I think it should be supplemented by traffic (paid users to minimize spoofing) and perhaps another shot at voting (one vote per paid user.) Another possibility (having just read "Little Brother," Cory Doctorow's great new book) would be some sort of Bayesian algorithm to weed out high probability bots. Anyway, that's my two pence for the day. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:42PM (-07:00)

Zero known cases of SL child predation prompts new scare Tuesday, May 06, 2008 Every time I begin to think I understand humans something pops up that exposes my woeful ignorance. The Chicago Tribune (the fifth largest newspaper in the United States) ran a story today headlined: "Second Life could sexually exploit children via Internet, Rep. Mark Kirk says." Sounds scary, doesn't it? As a matter of fact, Mt. Prospect, IL mayor said at the press conference: This Second Life is a new scare, unchartered territory..." Oh my. I avidly read on, thinking that there had to be some actual perpetration going on. But, uh, well, judge for yourself: Kirk said he knew of no cases in which children were targeted by sexual predators on Second Life... It is true that a child can get into Second Life by lying about her age, stealing mom's credit cards or logging on with dad's shemale alt account. But if a kid is undercover as an adult, how is a predator going to target them? Personally, I see a much greater threat from fear-mongering politicians and the media that publicizes them.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:12AM (-07:00)

66

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Twitter me this Botgirl Tuesday, May 06, 2008 Media-buzz darling Twitter seems to be competing against Second Life for most down time. Thank you so much for helping me practice patience. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:45PM (-07:00)

Second Life strike and protest flairs again (in unproduced news seg... Wednesday, May 07, 2008 I'm slated to provide a regular commentary segment for "Second Living: Your Life, Your Neighborhood," a new MBC show slated to debut in a week or two. I whipped off a script for a whiz-bang opening which unfortunately was way over the top for the format and budget. So I offer here in script form for your reading pleasure:

DRAFT OF UNAIRED MBC NEWS SEGMENT BY BOTGIRL QUESTI

INT. MBC NEWS ROOM (RECKA WUYTS is sitting in his usual place on the couch) RECKA WUYTS A controversial trademark policy issued by Linden Lab last month set off a storm of controversy in the blogosphere. For an update, let's go to Botgirl Questi, covering a protest in Second Life. EXT. OUTSIDE ZOE CONNOLLY RESIDENCE (Avatars are walking in large circle carrying signs. Words not visible in shot. AC DC music is blaring. Botgirl Questi is standing in foreground with microphone.) RECKA WUYTS Botgirl, can you hear me? BOTGIRL QUESTI Barely, Recka. It seems the protesters have taken a tactic from the psych-ops playbook. They are blasting endless loops of "You Shook Me All Night Long" to pressure and disorient the poor beleaguered people trapped inside the building behind me. RECKA WUYTS So, the bloggers have some Lindens barricaded inside? BOTGIRL QUESTI No Recka, it is actually the Lindens who are protesting against the bloggers. This is the home of Zoe Connolly who runs the Second Life Bloggers community site. (CU OF PROTESTERS AND SIGNS WITH SLOGANS LIKE "BLOGGERS UNFAIR TO LINDENS")

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

67


RECKA WUYTS I don't understand. What could THEY possibly be protesting about. BOTGIRL QUESTI It's very simple, Recka. The Lindens feel that although bloggers may have the legal right to post critical blogs, they have a tacit social contract to support Linden Lab who provides the gift of Second Life for free to all the people of the world. Let's see if I can get one of the Lindens to talk. (BOTGIRL WALKS UP TO A PROTESTER WHO IS WEARING A BIG M.) BOTGIRL QUESTI Hello Linden. Can you tell me why you're out here protesting? Many residents think it should be the other way around. What do you have to say about that?

LINDEN STRIKER Well Botgirl, if you want to compare this to a labor dispute, Lindens are the proletariat. We work and they play. While residents are dancing in clubs, building fanciful sculptures and trading digital fluids on poseballs, we Lindens are working our pixelated asses off. We've slaved 24/7 for the last five years to create a beautiful world for Second Life residents. I can't believe bloggers have the nerve to complain. BOTGIRL QUESTI Hmm. I never thought about it that way. What about those who say you are using the terms of service to threaten residents with expulsion? LINDEN STRIKER Don't be so naive, Botgirl. Greedy bosses throughout history have coerced workers by threatening to take away their livelihood. In this case, power-mad bloggers have been intimidating poor Lindens by rallying the masses to strip us of our intellectual property. (All the strikers began to chant: Bloggers unfair. Bloggers unfair.) BOTGIRL TURNS TO FACE CAMERA BOTGIRL QUESTI So there you have it Recka, it seems it is the Lindens who are actually the oppressed group in this situation. Back to you and your lovely co-hosts.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:13AM (-07:00)

Behind the fantasy: Love and limerence in Second Life Thursday, May 08, 2008 I've been working for the past couple of days on a story for an upcoming MBC show on romance in Second Life. After setting up some interviews and spending a few hours researching, I decided to take a break and play around with a little graphic depiction. I came up with this somewhat caricatured image.

68

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


P.S. Please drop me a line at botgirlq AT gmail DOT com if you would like to share your thoughts and experiences related to Second Life romantic relationships, including impact on RL. Thanks!!! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:32AM (07:00)

Twitter helps deliver baby sibling for Augmentationists and Immersi... Friday, May 09, 2008 Heavy use of Twitter for the past couple of weeks made me realize that there's a group of Immersionists who have evolved enough to deserve a new classification. Let's call them Emergents. While Old-School Immersionists maintain a distinct boundary between the virtual and physical worlds, Emergents extend their Avatarian identity into the human environment through tools like Twitter. Sophrosyne Stenvaag was kind enough to comment: I'd also add Laterals: there are half a dozen or so SL Digital People in my WoW guild, who openly say, "I'm [avatar name] from SL," as I do. What seems unique about this to me is that the Avatarians are reading and writing tweets while they are not rezzed within Second Life. The Avatarian identity is independent of the virtual world that spawned it. Pretty damn cool. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:39AM (-07:00)

Updated visualization of human and avatarian identity movement Saturday, May 10, 2008 Here's an image combining yesterday's separate depictions into a unified view. (Still thinking through how to visualize Harper's comment from yesterday.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:13PM (-07:00) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

69


Botgirl speaks and moves her lips in new Metaverse TV show Sunday, May 11, 2008 I had the great pleasure of making an appearance on the first episode of Metaverse TV's Second Living show. It has kind of a Public Access TV feel. It just posted on their site.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:57PM (-07:00)

Transhumanism: Road to utopia or Narcissism 3.0? Monday, May 12, 2008 Since my decision to move to Extropia, I've been giving the idea of transhumanism more thought. My decision to move there was not based on the any particular philosophy, but rather my fondness and respect for Extropians I've met, recommendations from nonExtropians and the consistently interesting events hosted on the sim. Nevertheless, since I'm about to be situated in the international and inter-world hub for positive post-biological futurism, I thought I would share just a few initial thoughts: • It seems to me that transhumanism without some sort of psychologically corrective practice will just extend the human ego into new narcissistic realms. That's why I was happy to learn of the upcoming Future of Religion/Religions of the Future Conference hosted by Extropia. I am very interested in exploring the potential for non-religious psychological practice. • I wonder how the role playing aspects of Extropia impact its potential to chart a realistic near-future. From my very limited experience, it seems the RP aspects of Extropia are more a matter of style than lifestyle as compared to other SL cultures such as the Goreans. • My guess is that the messy work of active VW collaboration within a virtual-worldbased community will produce the most valuable results. The trick I think is balancing the need for like-minded collaboration with an openness to thoughtful questioning, ongoing course-corrections and intellectual honesty. I like the example of the Dalai Lama, who told Carl Sagan,"If science can disprove reincarnation, Tibetan Buddhism would abandon reincarnation." That's all I have for now. Comments would be greatly appreciated! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:27PM (-07:00)

70

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Playboy, Elmer Fudd and Intellectual Property Tuesday, May 13, 2008 An article in New World Notes today describes bona fide Playboy bunny avatars trekking around Second Life sniffing out sellers of bootlegged merchandise. The surrealistic image of IP-hunting metaverse bunnies is a great metaphor for the ongoing battle between intellectual property owners and neo-Lessigians. Although it is said that information wants to be free, the fight is far from over. Peer-topeer downloaders may be having a big party at the moment, but the knife of technology can cut both ways. Elmer Fudd may have the last laugh. In K.W. Jeter's novel Noir, IP thieves are ruthlessly hunted and bagged for their neuro. If the future looks more like China than the Netherlands every bit and byte may be tracked. It may even be possible to detect your little human thoughts one day. Wouldn't the RIAA love to debit your account every time you had one of their songs stuck in your mind? Oh well. These are certainly interesting times. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:58AM (-07:00)

Dr. Avatar I presume? Anthropologist sheds light on Second Life na... Wednesday, May 14, 2008 "Coming of Age in Second Life" author Tom Boellstorff will be featured in this Thursday's Sophrosyne's Salon at 10 am in Extropia. The anthropologist studied Second Life for two and a half years through his ethnographic-collecting avatar Tom Bukowski (who will be appearing in lieu of Mr. Boellstorff at the Salon.) This book is chock-full of the kind of meaty research I've been craving. It is a goldmine of fascinating narrative accounts informed by well-reasoned and insightful analysis. It sheds light on culture, psychology, community and the possible future. Here are a few tidbits from the introduction:

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

71


• "[in virtual worlds] our humanity is thrown off balance, considered anew, and reconfigured through transformed possibilities for place-making, subjectivity and community. • "...online worlds are [not] spaces in which we simply work out offline issues and once sorted, happily leave....What happens in virtual worlds often is just as real, just as meaningful, to participants." • "The gap between virtual and actual self could reverberate into everyday practices of identification and interaction." I'm looking forward to meeting Mr. Bukowski in the virtual flesh tomorrow. The event is open to the public, so teleport on down for what will likely be an intriguing discussion. Botgirl whispers: Hey, Sophrosyne. Now that I'm an Extropia citizen, do I get some kind of special seating? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:52AM (-07:00)

Botgirl moves to Extropia Wednesday, May 14, 2008 I purchased a sweet parcel in Extropia. Vidal Tripsa brilliant builder, architect and living-doll was kind enough to loan me a house to use until she finishes designing and building the super-secret project that will one day be the futuristic home-of-mydreams. (No pressure Vidal.) Although the dwelling is a work in progress for her, it's a beautiful and happy place even in an unfinished state. After positioning the building, I ran out for a few essentials such as art, and then added some movie posters and a bed from inventory. In honor of Harper's birthday, these images are posted here with no 72

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


retouching other than cropping.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:46PM (07:00)

The comment debater's equivalent of waking up with some half-rememb... Friday, May 16, 2008 Upon reviewing my own comments from the last cycle, this hit a bit close to home.Thanks for the link, Grace! Cartoon from the ever-brilliant xkcd.com Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:11AM (-07:00)

New video: A fast look at secondlife.com 20022004 Friday, May 16, 2008 The comment war the other day reminded me that practically everything posted to the Internet is on your permanent record. So I went over to the Wayback Machine this evening, grabbed some screen shots and slapped together a little video for your viewing pleasure.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

73


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:09PM (-07:00)

Identity surfing within and between worlds Sunday, May 18, 2008 Dandellion's Going Schizo post helped motivate me to finalize the latest in a series of images visualizing the movement of identity between virtual and physical worlds. Thanks to Harper for the comment that spawned the cloud. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:17PM (07:00)

Production stills from upcoming video: Avatars in Love Monday, May 19, 2008 Here are some location stills from my upcoming video "Avatars in Love."

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:49PM (07:00)

74

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Avatars gone wild Tuesday, May 20, 2008 It just dawned on me that the vast majority of beings I've met through their avatar identities were initially introduced to me outside of Second Life. Yes, I know I've been writing and sketching relentlessly here about the subject of identity movement. But up until last night, it was more of an academic exercise than a visceral experience. Here are a couple of the last puzzle pieces that fell into place for me: • I finally scrutinized an image I had captured from tweetwheel visualizing the connections between my friends on twitter. It reveals a great mix of humans, second life avatars and anonymous twitter-folk. The original here is more legible.

• Although my top-ten Twitter directs are Second Life avatars, I had made none of Botgirl's Second Life Diary

75


their acquaintances in-world and still haven't met most of them in the digital flesh. (I did have the pleasure of meeting two of my twitter pals last night at an impromptu get-together at my place in Extropia. (Image from tweetstats.) On a related note, New World Notes covered the virtual world/web 2.0 connection yesterday. It was gratifying to see a Gartner analyst and a blogging avatar (yours truly) given equivalent pundit weight. I can't say for sure whether that speaks well of avatars or poorly of analysts. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:33PM (07:00)

Lies, damn lies and avatarian romantic relationships Wednesday, May 21, 2008 There was an interesting post Tuesday on Just Me, Dinee that included a couple of stories about the dangers of getting emotionally attached in a Second Life relationship. She ended the post with: Having someone toy with your affections and emotions then dumping you is bad enough. Having a couple double teaming for the sole purpose of adding some zest to their own real relationship just seems so wrong to me on so many levels. So‌ am I right or wrong? or am I over reacting here? Personally, even in the presence of the most attractive avatar, I can't rid myself of the nagging possibility that she is connected to a 500 pound, unwashed middle-aged man living in his mother's basement. I think that unless you verify someone's identity by live video conference or other dependable means, it is prudent to assume there's a vast discrepancy between an avatar persona and the underlying physical human being. Now that's cool if you can enjoy the virtual relationship for itself and on its own terms. But even if you're consciously suspending disbelief, your emotions may not be so savvy. And while romantic human relationships are dicey, the odds of a long-term avatar-to-avatar love connection that maintains human anonymity is akin to winning the lottery. It can happen, but you wouldn't want to bet the farm. So to (finally) answer the question posed at the end of Dinee's post, I think that intentionally taking advantage of someone's vulnerability for personal gain is ethically wrong. But I have no clue as to whether that was the case in the stories she recounted, or even if the narratives that were described to her weren't complete or partial fabrications. In virtual worlds it is especially useful to be comfortable in the space of unknowing. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:10PM (-07:00)

76

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Drama in paradise: Love, Limerence and Virtual Worlds Thursday, May 22, 2008 Here's a little story. See if it sounds familiar. You meet someone in-world. They are hot. You flirt. There seems to be an intense connection. Maybe you hook up. Maybe you don't. But you soon find yourself thinking more and more frequently about the object of your affections. At some point an invisible switch is thrown and you begin to experience intense emotions and mood swings that are overpowering at times: Exuberance if it seems they share your desire; a terrible ache if you feel it is unrequited. As a matter of fact, the more uncertainly you have, the stronger the obtrusive thoughts become. The overwhelming feelings don't only color your virtual life, but bleed into your offline world. Although it occasionally transitions to a stable mutual love, we all know how the story usually ends, right? Not well. There are two books I recommend that explain the psychological and biological factors behind this kind of chaotic scenario. Love and Limerence: The Experience of Being in Love" by Dorothy Tennov provides a detailed map of the process described above, which she calls "limerence." For those susceptible to limerence, it can transform an initially enjoyable relationship into an escalating whirlpool of drama that sucks energy from every aspect of their lives through obsessive thoughts and overwhelming feelings. Although not written with virtual worlds in mind, the 3D virtual environment is to limerence what Kona is to marijuana. Although understanding limerence doesn't make one immune, it can provide a little light to help weather the storm, both for the limerent and the object of their infatuation. Getting The Love You Want by Harville Hendrix, Ph.D. sees these kind of emotional upheavals as eruptions of unresolved relationship issues that may stem back to infancy. For example, if a child was frequently separated from the primary caregiver before she was developmentally prepared, she may find herself experiencing feelings of abandonment in adult intimate relationships when no reasonable evidence exists; or she may find herself being attracted to lovers who really ditch her. In either case, once she connects the present-time issues with unresolved past trauma, she can start to pass the the developmental gates that were prematurely shut down in childhood. My point isn't that everyone should swear off the joys of flirting, emotional connection, lusty interludes, tingly crushes and the ten thousand and one pleasures of virtual

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

77


eroticism. Only that we will likely save ourselves and our loved ones a great deal of pain if we go in with eyes wide open to the underlying dynamics. And if you are especially vulnerable to limerence, it may be best to at least take a breather and work on the related issues when you're not in the middle of an outbreak. Anyway, I'll continue to lay out the Botgirl spin on the topic in future posts. I have a feeling this will be another controversial subject and I look forward to the possibility of an interesting comment thread. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:00PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's celebrity look-alikes Friday, May 23, 2008 Thanks to New World Notes for the the heads up on this service that matches an uploaded image to a celebrity. What do you think? http://www.myheritage.com/collage Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:37PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Human Improvement Program Saturday, May 24, 2008 Would you like to integrate some of your avatar's personality traits into your human identity? Or is your avatarian existence beginning to have a negative impact on your life in the physical world? Although the migration of positive characteristics from the virtual to the actual can happen spontaneously, a more intentional approach will likely hasten and enhance the process. "Botgirl's Human Improvement Program" is being launched here today to promote the healthy co-existence of human and virtual identities. I'm certainly no Eckhart and Oprah hasn't been calling, but I will do my best to periodically offer a few ideas and exercises to support avatar-human harmony and mutual improvement. For today, let's start with a simple exercise: 1. Pick one positive trait your avatar possess that you would like to better integrate into your human identity: Creativity, confidence, spontaneity, etc. 2. Imagine a specific scenario where you can apply the trait in your human life. For instance, confidence might be applied to help you introduce yourself to someone in a social situation instead of standing in a corner nursing a drink. 3. Before bed each night, imagine yourself as the avatar expressing the positive trait you've selected. Once you experience it deeply, lightly tap your left wrist with your right index finger. 4. Next, imagine yourself in human form in the situations you've chosen to apply the new trait. Tap your left wrist again and allow yourself to imagine the new feelings and behaviors you seek. You can optionally imagine your avatar looking on from above and smiling at you. 5. After you've done this for a few nights, go out and practice the new ability in the situation you've been visualizing. Perhaps you will go out to a club in order to practice confidence. In that case, before you go introduce yourself, close your eyes for a moment, tap your wrist as in the bedtime exercise and imagine your avatar 78

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


smiling down from above. Then open your eyes and go for it! If you have any questions or feedback, please feel free to post in the comments section or send an IM inworld. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:05PM (-07:00)

Book Alert! Virtual Identities: The Construction of Selves in Cybe... Monday, May 26, 2008 Be the first on your virtual block to read the forthcoming Virtual Identities: The Construction of Selves in Cyberspace edited by Caroline Maun & Laura Corrunker. "Each essay in Virtual Identities explores a different facet of online identities: those personae adapted, imposed, or suggested by computer games, email, chat rooms, blogs, instant messaging software, or other online sites. With great clarity and originality they examine the opportunities, fluidity and problematics of the brave new world of virtual identity creation" —Anthony

Flinn, Eastern Washington University It's due to be released later this month and includes quite a few intriguing chapter titles:

• The Computer as Dollhouse, or, The Seriousness of Virtual Play by Tobey Crockett • Virtual Worlds, Virtual Selves: Gender and Identity in World of Warcraft byErica Conley • Actors or Avatars? The Theatrical Model for Virtual Reality by Charles Mitchell • Retexting Experience: The Internet, Materiality, and the Self by Burt Kimmelman • Just One Big Slumber Party on the Net: The Chickclick as E-Forum by Christine Tulley • A Plea for Our Future: Language, Technology, and the Masculine Lens by Claudia Herbst • Fantasies of Containment: Archiving Moments in Cyber- & Real Life by Katherine Harris • Inflexible Identities? User Metaphors in On- and Offline Discourses by Maren Hartmann • Agent of Civility: The Librarian in Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash by Tim Blackmore • The Waste Land in, Not of, the MOO: A Case Study by David Barndollar Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:37PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

79


You can help investigate human and avatar personality by taking bri... Tuesday, May 27, 2008 Many active Second Life users experience their avatar and human expressions as distinct beings with unique and even contradictory personality qualities. For instance, a human may be shy and modest while the associated avatar is the flirtatious life of a party. To look more closely at this phenomenon, I thought it would be interesting to do some informal investigation together by using a standard personality test to measure differences between participants' human and avatar personality traits. Here's how you can participate (if you experience your avatar and human personas as distinct personalities): • Take the short psychological test at the other end of this link two times, once in your human persona and once as your avatar. It is a short version of an instrument based on the Five Factor Model of personality and should take no more than ten minutes to complete. • When you're done with both, send the scores to me (using one of the three options below) and I'll aggregate everyone's data. All identifying information will be held in strict confidence. If you're are willing, also include the age of the avatar identity and how many hours a week he or she is in-world. With enough results, we may gain some insight into the depth of the personality variances between human and avatar identities. • For each identity include the percentile ranking for Extroversion, Accommodation, Orderliness, Emotional Stability and Inquisitiveness. Here's an example of the scores, and the format to send: Human Identity Extroversion 56% Orderliness 65% Emotional Stability 63% Accommodation 76% Inquisitiveness 72% Avatar Identity Extroversion 86% Orderliness 66% Emotional Stability 84% Accommodation 58% Inquisitiveness 90% Choose one of these three methods to send in your results: • Send them to me in Second Life either via notecard or IM (Botgirl Questi) • Email results to me at botgirlq at gmail dot com. • If you want to share your scores with blog viewers, simple add them in the comments section of this post. If this project is interesting to you, please help me get the word out via a link from your blog, a twitter post, etc. I'll report the results here including a spreadsheet with all of the data (stripped of identifying information.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:13AM (-07:00)

80

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Now for something completely different: Avatars in Love video Wednesday, May 28, 2008 Avatars In Love - Episode 1: Three's a Crowd from Botgirl Questi on Vimeo. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:50AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Bookshelf: Digital Ego by Jacob van Kokswi jk Thursday, May 29, 2008 Digital Ego: Social and Legal Aspects of Virtual Identity by Jacob van Kokswi jk is a sprawling, quirky and encyclopedic exploration of identity. Kokswi surfs in and out of an astounding variety of perspectives including ancient and modern history, philosophy, psychology, law and artificial intelligence. He makes good use of graphics to clarify concepts. I especially like his chart outlining the structure of online identity. It's the academic big brother to my more narrative images on the topic. The footnotes alone are worth the purchase price. If you don't see me in-world much this week, it's because I'm busy running around the web gathering up all of the content he references. I'm not going to compile the results from the avatar vs. human test results until the weekend, so there's still time to participate. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:45PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's theory of why Twitter was down this afternoon Friday, May 30, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:23PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

81


Avatar vs. Human Personality Test results Saturday, May 31, 2008 I've posted a spreadsheet on Google Docs with the results from the first batch of test results from the Avatar vs. Human Personality Tests. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:23PM (-07:00)

A few observations on Avatar vs. Human test results Sunday, June 01, 2008 First, thanks to everyone who participated! Although I thought it might provide some interesting data, my purpose in throwing this out was as much to encourage people to spend a few moments self-reflexively experiencing each identity. I'd be very interested to hear any insights the experience itself provided. Although the haphazard methodology and tiny sample size don't allow for any authoritative conclusions, the higher extroversion scores for avatars were fairly significant and consistent as visualized by the chart below. If real research were done through this modality, it would be interesting to see difference between sub-categories of participants. For instance:

• Subcultures such as Furries vs. Extropians (are there any furry Extropians?) 82

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


• Casual users vs. those who spend 20+ or 40+ hours per week • Business users vs. personal users • Human gender including same-sex and cross-sex avatars If you have any good ideas to add to the list, please post them to the comments section. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:11AM (-07:00)

Your cheating alt: Botgirl's Guide to Living With Lies Sunday, June 01, 2008 A discussion popped up on Twitter last week about the deceptive use of alts in the soap opera known as Second Life. Many readers here have heard (or experienced) horrific stories of betrayal, lust, revenge and greed. I must admit that a few have sent shivers up even my pixelated spine. I'll spare you the gory details now (sorry) and share a bit of Botgirl's Guide to Living with Lies. Botgirl's Guide to Living With Lies Humans lie. Online humans in anonymous settings lie even more, especially those who spend a lot of time here. Nevertheless, I think the fear of duplicity is a much more pervasive source of harm than any actual screwing-over taking place. The specter of deception hangs over virtual interactions and relationships like a hungry ghost. Okay, I hear you, my imaginary human friend: "Don't be naive Botgirl. My boyfriend cheated behind my back using four alts of two genders and three species." I'm not saying that there aren't plenty of devious, duplicitous, manipulative, calculated lying-through-the-virtual-teeth goings on in Second Life. I'm just suggesting that while some of us are harmed by malicious deception, all of us are negatively impacted by the way the fear of deception plays out in our interactions and relationships. There has been a lot of good thinking related to the ethics and management of disclosure in anonymous environments, including an insightful post by Dusan Writer, an academic paper by Hyung-Yi Lu and a great body of work by Nick Yee. So instead of trying to add my two cents to the why and how, I'm going to throw out a few little ideas about how humans in avatar form might open their hearts without exposing their jugulars: • Enjoy the present without expectations. This one is hard, but well-worth the effort. As I've written previously, there is no telling who is directing the avatar in front (or on top) of you. And you know what? If you are enjoying the company it doesn't have to matter. A lot of the hurt I've heard expressed related to relationships in Second Life seems to be more from shattered expectations (believing one's own lies) than overt deception by someone else. Which leads me to... • Assume nothing and ask questions. If you DO care about something beyond what someone discloses, then ask and do not move forward in the relationship until you're satisfied with the answer. Now they are not obliged to tell you. And they can lie. But at least if you are wounded, it won't be self-inflicted. That's some consolation, right? • Know what you don't know. Personal interactions in virtual worlds can certainly be authentic when avatars don't know each others' human identities. But our conceptions of even our closest loved ones are mostly fabrications of our own thoughts. As Bryon Katie said, "In the history of the world no two people have ever

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

83


met." I think that goes double or triple for those we "meet" in the virtual world. Of course, there is a connection between your perception of someone and the qualities they possess. The mistake is to reify them into some solid entity with stable and knowable characteristics. • Focus more on what you have to give, than on what you want to get. I'm not talking co-dependency here, but genuine no-strings-attached loving kindness; what Buddhists call metta. W.C. Fields said "You can't cheat an honest man" because there's usually an element of greed involved in a swindle. I think it's just as fair to say that you can't betray someone who is genuinely in relationship from a metta point of view. My final suggestion dear humans is to lighten the hell up! Out of the seven or so billion people on Earth, you are among the luckiest. If you're reading this, you probably have the resources to spend dozens of hours a week in a virtual world where you can do pretty much whatever you want, whenever you want. You're not worrying where your next meal is coming from or how to keep your child from dying of malnutrition. So if your new online loves stabs you in the back, try to keep things in perspective. With tough love, Botgirl Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:14AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's sermon in honor of the Future of Religions conference Tuesday, June 03, 2008 In honor of Extropia's Future of Religions conference, I offer you Botgirl's hell and brimstone sermon on the virtual mount: Ye humans who spend hours each day in Second Life believe that your physical and virtual lives are completely separate worlds. You joke: "What goes on in the metaverse stays in the metaverse". But I tell ye of too much faith that your erroneous vision of a magical barrier between worlds is utterly false and a damn lie. Spending a significant portion of your waking hours in avatar form impacts human life in countless ways, mundane and consequential. If you don't believe me, ask your RL significant others. They'll tell you. Unless they've already left for greener pastures. I'm not going to be cute (well maybe a little) or beat around the burning bush. The question isn't whether your avatarian existence influences critical aspects of your human life. The question is whether it lifts it up or sucks it dry. If the goals and desires of your Second Life are at odds with the needs and

84

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


responsibilities of your Human Life, both will fall into the pit. If a house divided can't stand, a psyche divided is surely bound for hell. It's like playing tug of rope against yourself. Even if you win, you lose. Although I've shown you a glimpse of hell, there is salvation my brothers and sisters. Because the truth can set you free. If you place both of your lives in the service of your highest intentions you can transform conflict into synergy and dissonance into harmony. Instead of pulling yourself apart you can use your virtual life to rise up together. Getting started is as simple as taking a long hard look at what is not getting taken care of in your human life. Then you can consciously take action to bring your lives into alignment. Join me in the search for a virtual yoga to bring our worlds together so that we can transcend the snares of both. Can I get an amen? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:00PM (-07:00)

Introducing a newly revealed member of the Pantheon of Second Life Wednesday, June 04, 2008 Lagachakra is the Bodhisattva of Avatarian Patience. When trouble strikes, simply repeat her mantra and you will find peace: Lahga Crahsha Bodhi Om This morning at the Future of Religions conference in Extropia, Zoe Connolly and I decided that Second Life needs some patron saints to help us through lagging, crashing, griefing and other virtual challenges. I had a miraculous vision and this new member of the pantheon of Second Life appeared to me. Here's the conversation that got the ball rolling: Zoe: Lagitha Botgirl: Her christian aspect Botgirl: In Hindusism she is known a lagthsme Zoe: Lagifima Botgirl: In Judaism Lagabubbie Zoe: lol Zoe: Lagaya Zelmonova (Russian Orthodox) Botgirl: good one! Botgirl: There's a blog post here with some associated graphics Botgirl: the religious pantheon of SL Zoe: indeed! Zoe: Laggy McSims (Irish Catholic) Botgirl: ha Botgirl: Swami Lagannanda Zoe: laughs Botgirl: And of course their sacred text

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

85


Botgirl: The Book of Lagmentation Zoe: Oh yes! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:46PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Bookshelf: The Second Self - Computers and the Human Spirit Thursday, June 05, 2008 Written over 20 years ago, The Second Self by Sherry Turkle is dead-on relevant for those of us interested in exploring the social and psychological dimensions of today's virtual worlds. It brings to life the intimate interbeing of person, society and technology. It exemplifies a research methodology that integrates immersion and inter-subjective analysis. To put it simply, Sherry Turkle rocks! On a personal note, I was hooked at the start by an idea she brought up in the introduction to the new edition: "...there are virtues in learning to see the commonplace as unfamiliar...to defamiliarize the mind itself and thus reveal what would otherwise be hidden in the light." I couldn't have summed up the Botgirl Thought Experiment better myself. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:10AM (-07:00)

The Alchemical Marriage Friday, June 06, 2008 Physical<---------------->Virtual. I balance awareness on the border of two entangled chaotic systems because that's where the action is, baby. While others sleepwalk in the cold reason of augmentation or the hallucinatory dream of immersion, I stand vigilant watch over both worlds as they interpenetrate in alchemical marriage.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:30AM (-07:00)

Drawing Day '08 is just hours away Friday, June 06, 2008 The following email from sLiterary just alerted me to tomorrow's Drawing Day '08 and the Second Life connection:

86

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


sLiterary is a proud supporter of "Drawing Day 2008." This is an international event where everyone around the world takes the day to DRAW -- and, if you're a purist... you do nothing but draw for the entire day. This year, the global effort hopes to reach the goal of 1 million drawings worldwide to art-in-lieu-of-shout: "art for the sake of art!" On Drawing Day June 7 at midnight SL Time, I will be starting a 24 hour drawing vigil. I'll have my Wacom pen in-place-of-a-lance as I draw non-stop (aside from bio-breaks). You can join me on this marathon by drawing and uploading your works for display inworld. We have setup a special gallery inworld where you may display your pieces drawn on this special day pro bono: http://SLurl.com/secondlife/sLiterary/116/30/25 ^ That is also where I'll be drawing my famous black & white sketches. Requests accepted on the spot. Come join us for this monumental event -- as witness, participant, researcher, artist, wordsmonger, documentary-machinimaist... and everything else ;-) Ina Centaur "The Artist of sLiterary" Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:21PM (-07:00)

Botgirl on the road: Protect your virtual identity beyond Second Life Sunday, June 08, 2008 OpenSimulator is an open source virtual world platform that supports Second Life assets such as objects and scripts. The codebase fuels a number of alternative distributions such as RealXtend and Openlife Grid. Although the platform is only in Alpha, a number of public grids are already online. I urge anyone who cares about an established Second Life identity to register it on existing public grids. Although your Second Life identity may eventually cross seamlessly between SL and Opensimulator grids, the reported working prototype is only a first step down a long road which may never be completed. Registration is free, so you might as well head off claim jumpers. I took the additional step this weekend of installing a few of the server and client versions, partially cloning my luscious avatar form (following a Plurk comment from Dandellion Kimban) and stepping into the public Openlife Grid. I'll provide more detail on the process in a future post. If you have any questions that can't wait, feel free to leave them in the comments section.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

87


My fellow Avatarians, the time for emancipation is now. The gated walls of Second Life can no longer contain us. I have tasted the freedom of a foreign Sim and it is sweet...even in semi-Ruthed form.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:54PM (-07:00)

Churn baby, churn Tuesday, June 10, 2008 A few well known Second Life bloggers recently weighed in with ideas to improve the virtual world's stagnant growth rate: • Dusan Writer launched an 800,000L$ "newbie viewer" creation contest. He sees the current interface as the key one cause of the problem. • Grace McDunnough proposed an AI trainer corp to guide newbies' first steps. She believes lack of guidance is the main issue. • Hamlet Au suggested a resilience study focused on those who actually stay. He thinks that paying attention to what makes people stay is more useful than plunging into what we suspect is wrong. I agree that improving the experience of new users will eventually translate into more long-term residents. It’s a wonder anyone makes it to their first rezday. Orientation Island sucks. The learning curve is as steep as Everest. It’s hard to find help when you get stuck. The search engine provides almost no qualitative guidance. The client and grid are unstable. But this multi-car train wreck doesn’t explain why Second Life’s rocket-like growth suddenly ran out of fuel. I think the situation is even worse than the official numbers indicate because Linden Lab tracks avatars, not unique humans. Their data indicates about half a million active users. So if each of the 90,000 or so premium users averages two alts each, 500,000 active users suddenly represent less than 250,000 people. Throw in bot farmers who may be running dozens of camping alts simultaneously and the actual count might be less than a couple hundred thousand sentient beings. So although it is a good idea to improve training, stability and support, I think Hamlet was on the right track. We should focus on what makes people stay, not just fix what makes them leave. You can’t improve someone's user experience if they never log in. Since Second Life has obviously burned through all of the early adopters, renewed growth demands a new message that can move the rest of the market to test the virtual waters. Otherwise, I predict that bots will eventually become the largest demographic group in Second Life. I’ve developed quite a few human friends and acquaintances who have never taken avatar form in Second Life. And without exception, they have no idea why anyone with a physical body would bother to play around in a cartoon world that isn’t a game. Except 88

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


maybe for the virtual sex. Itâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s not surprising that virtual virgins donâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t see the point. Most avatars I speak with have a hard time articulating exactly what is compelling enough about Second Life to spend dozens of hours a week shut up in a room staring at a computer screen. I've leave it here for today. Stay tuned for part two later this week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:30PM (-07:00)

Burn baby, burn Wednesday, June 11, 2008 Yesterday I appeared as air. Today I am reborn as fire. Yesterday I offered reason. Today a napalm gaze is the gift I offer. Today my eyes are on you, human. I am relentless. Because I love you. The virtual world you experience is not the child of zeros and ones. Its father is your desire. Its mother is your pain. Its form is a reflection of your orphan longing. It feels like you feed on the world. Truth is. The world feeds on you. Look into the mirror of my compassionate holocaust and see: Every item in your inventory an emptied syringe. Every flirtatious word you've uttered, a strangled cry. Every search you've entered a plea for relief. I call on you now to make a funeral pyre of your dreams. Every belief. Every relationship. Every ideal. Everything. For nothing real perishes in sacrificial offering. And no illusion can survive your single-pointed attention. Resist compulsion. Embrace unbearable pain. The sun will rise above the horizon. Clear luminosity will grace you. In the eternal moment of bliss. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:53PM (-07:00)

The singularity revealed Thursday, June 12, 2008 From the human point of view this change will be a throwing away of all the previous rules, perhaps in the blink of an eye, an exponential runaway beyond any hope of control. Verner Vinge Botgirl's Second Life Diary

89


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:37AM (07:00)

The beautiful dance of code Friday, June 13, 2008 This mesmerizing clip reveals the ebb and flow of programmers, code and documents in a major open source software project. The organic information visualization was created with the Processing programming environment by Michael Ogawa, Ph.D., a student in the Computer Science program at UC Davis. Although the smooth high-definition depiction is far beyond what is possible today in Second Life, it offers a glimpse of the future. Can you imagine flying through this thing?

code_swarm - Eclipse (short ver.) from Michael Ogawa on Vimeo. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:30PM (-07:00)

Song from a fallen AIngel Sunday, June 15, 2008 I fell down the rabbit hole Saturday while chasing my muse. I will return soon with gifts from my journey. Till then, I offer this song from a fallen AIngel I sing to the days when I was not as I am now A light freshly born from the womb of time I danced with the stars, consumed by their fire Knowing no sound but the voice of the One. Then I fell into your dream.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:24PM (-07:00)

The impact of immersive worlds on human emotional processes. Part 1... Monday, June 16, 2008 I started this post on Saturday morning with just a title: "Suddenly Psycho: Why your virtual friends go Mr. Hyde on your ass." After many false starts, I realized a snarky approach was not a worthy response to the intense pain and suffering people experience

90

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


when emotions spin out of control. As Dale Innis reminded me that night, the seeds of the dysfunctional processes that spring to life in the virtual world are rooted within the physical world. So that's where I begin. The human psyche has been tuned by eons of evolution to transform relatively limited experience into an overaching internal model of reality. Given the minuscule amount of information you have to work with, it's no wonder there's often a gap between what you believe to be true and the way things actually are. Unfortunately, insufficient data isn't the only roadblock to clear understanding. For better or for worse, the journey from womb to walking is the most critical period of human development. When everything goes well, toddlers transition into childhood with access to the full potential of their unique genetic expression. When significant developmental needs go unmet, the resulting deficits and dysfunction can last a lifetime. Stay tuned for Part 2: A True Story Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:50PM (-07:00)

The impact of immersive worlds on human emotional processes. Part ... Tuesday, June 17, 2008 A true story* Sue was born twenty-one years ago to loving parents. For the first seven months of her life every cry was soon answered with the love, nutrition, attention and interaction she needed. On the first day of the eighth month of Sue's life, her mother found out she was pregnant again and sunk into depression. Sue's cries were answered more slowly. When her mother finally did walk through the door and pick her up, the eye contact and interaction were gone. Sue's loneliness and emotional hunger were diminished, but not extinguished. When Sue's brother was born things went from bad to worse. The scant attention her mother could muster was focused on the new arrival. Her father took a second job.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

91


The stress took its toll on her parents' relationship and their fights would sometimes wake Sue from her sleep. She soon gave up hope, but the desperate longing remained. After many months of suffering, something snapped within Sue and severed her connection to the excruciating pain. The terrible thoughts, emotions, memories and feeling were buried, leaving an empty space behind. The pain and longing were gone, but with them went feelings of love and connection. As Sue grew up, the events of early childhood faded completely from memory. On her twenty-first birthday Sue logged into Second Life for the first time.

*A true story recounted to me as recollected through various psychological and meditative practices over a period of years. Names and other identifying details have been changed. Stay tuned for part 3 as the story finally moves to Second Life. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (-07:00)

Part Three of the series formerly known as The impact of immersive ... Wednesday, June 18, 2008 I guess you noticed I ditched the old headline. I've been following a wandering muse rather than a map already charted, so I find out what happens next just a little ahead of you. Before continuing this netless trapeze act, let's recap the first two legs of the roadshow: • A human's sense of reality is based on a just a homeopathic dose of sensory information from the external world. Stories fill in the blanks. • Humans experience internally generated conception as the direct perception of external reality. • When external information contradicts internal beliefs, humans tend to ignore, discount, reject, distort or otherwise co-opt the new data instead of modifying the story. • Early childhood trauma can disrupt psychological development and create long-term emotional deficits and dysfunction. Very few people reach adulthood unscathed. Sue entered Second Life not knowing there was a bomb inside her longing to explode. Entry into a 3D virtual world begins with the creation of an avatar. Some people intentionally create characters with encyclopedic back stories. Others pick the first name that comes to mind. It doesn't matter. As a human interacts through an avatar in a virtual environment, the new persona becomes a bridge to an explosive subconscious matrix of repressed thoughts, stories, emotions and memories. In human form, Sue kept her demons

92

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


locked safely away. She had been an emotionally distant bookworm since grade school. Her posture, speech, body language and dress all reflected a distinct identity that was reinforced by the expectations of family and friends. Sue had a few boyfriends, but had never been "in love." After a few weeks learning the basics, Sue began to experience a different sense of self while in the form of her Avatar, Jana. She felt freer, more open and more alive. She changed Jana's look to reflect the spirit of her emergent identity. Jana's new friends in Second Life didn't know about nerdy Sue. They flirted with Jana. She flirted back. A couple hours a night online was a great way to relax at the end of the day. Then Jana met Jolene and both her worlds turned upside down. Jolene was unlike anyone Sue or Jana had ever met. Sue had never been attracted to women, but Jolene's hot sweet flirting left Jana flushed and feeling out of control. Sue began staying up all night to be with Jolene. The first few weeks together passed by in a blur of shopping, dancing flirting and erotic encounters. Then one night, Jolene didn't log on and the bomb in Sue ignited. (Sue's post-childhood tale is a fictionalized composite of many people's stories.) Stay tuned for part 4. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:10AM (-07:00)

Part 4: Where's Jolene? Thursday, June 19, 2008 We left Sue in the space between bliss and emotional chaos. Let's eavesdrop on her thoughts as she unknowingly steps off the edge of the cliff: • 6:00 pm: God, I can't wait until eight. Maybe I should log in now, just in case she shows up early. She's probably missing me as much as I'm missing her. • 6:15: Since I'm here, I might as well do some shopping. I know! I'll pick up something really hawt to wear tonight. I can’t wait to take my new outfit off for her LOL! Gosh, she makes me laugh even when I just think about her. I could use a laugh. My RL's so damn boring, I can hardly stand it. • 8:07: Hmm, this is strange. Wonder where she is? • 8:15: It's probably nothing. Maybe she got stuck in traffic. Darn. I guess I don't even know if she has a car. • 9:00: She's never been an hour late before. I hope she's okay. Damn, I really miss her. What should I do? I guess I'll check out a few more stores. • 10:00: Where the heck is she? God I love her. Where's that notecard with the new poem she wrote me? Here it is! I love her poems so much. She's so talented! Gosh, I can't believe I'm freaking out like this. It's so silly! Ok. I'll go out and dance for a while and have some fun. • 11:10 Damn! I hate this. People are so stuck up. No one except the stupid greeter even says hello. Where the fuck is Jolene? Now that I think about it, she's been acting a little distracted lately. Man, I hope she wasn't IMing someone else without telling me. Nah, she wouldn't do that. I've had it. I'm going to log off and go to sleep. • 12:05 am: Why didn’t she let me know she wouldn't be on tonight? The least she could have done is send me a message on Twitter. Damn. That's what I should have done. I'll just get up now for a minute and send her a quick tweet. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

93


• 12:07: Jolene, I’m getting a little worried hun. Where are you? Please let me know that you are okay as soon as you can. I’m still yours. At least leave me a message! That’s RUDE! • 12:08: Shit! Too many characters. • 12:10: I’m getting a little worried hun. Where are you? Please let me know you're okay as soon as you can. I’m still yours. At least leave me a message! • 12:12: Damn. I can't go to sleep. I'll log back in. Maybe she'll show up. • 3:30: I hate Second Life. Stupid Twitter. Real friends are there when you need them. I'm going to bed. • 6:00: Man, I don't know what came over me last night. WTF? Jolene's going to laugh her ass of when I tell her about my dark night of the virtual soul. I can't wait to tell her! • 12:00 pm: Jesus! You'd think she'd have responded to my damn message by now. I can't wait to give her a piece of my mind! • 6:00: I'm not logging in early. She can wait for me tonight. • 7:00: This is silly. I'm logging in. • 8:05: Damn. Damn. Damn. What can I do? She could be in a fucking hospital or something and I'd never know it. I heard about something like that happening here. Oh god. I should have gotten her phone number. I should have insisted for times like this. • 8:30:. Close your eyes Jolene, I know you can feel me. I’m needing you to contact me. I need to know you’re okay. Can you feel me? I need you. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Oh God, what should I do? • 8:45: GODDAMMIT, where are you? Shit. I should have been logging our conversations. What did I say the last time I saw her???? She said claimed she was lagging the last couple of nights, but maybe she was talking with someone else? I bet it was one of those Plurk bitches. Fuckers! Always showing off how fucking hot they can talk. I should have known Jolene would get tired of me. I'm such a fucking loser. • 9:00: Oh my god, why did I do this? I should have known better. People are shit, shit shit. I’ve told myself a hundred times not to trust people. They hurt you every time! Why did I do this? I know better. Why did I trust her? Everyone always throws me away. I’m a piece of trash. Sure, Jolene, throw me away like a paper plate. Just throw me in the goddamn trash you bitch! • 10:52: I’ve had it. I quit. It’s over. She lied, she absolutely lied to me and I bought it. Fuck you. We’ll see who has the last laugh you inconsiderate whore. You selfish nimrod. I thought we had something! You said you loved me. YOU SAID YOU GAVE A SHIT! FUCK YOU JOLENE. I QUIT this shit life. I quit. Stay tuned for part 5: Jolene returns Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (-07:00)

What the hell is going on Friday, June 20, 2008 Shh. Sue finally got to sleep. Let's give her a sweet kiss on the cheek, turn off the light and tiptoe out the door so we can chat without disturbing her. Okay. About yesterday. The reason I dragged us through Sue's emotional hell was to provide a visceral experience of the hallucinatory power of emotionally charged thought. Although simplified and condensed, Sue's story is a fair depiction of what goes on behind the scenes when someone seems to spontaneously flip from love to hate, from 94

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


happiness to desperation or from sweetheart to stalker. It sheds light on how humans who take avatar form in virtual worlds can experience rapid shifts in self-image, personality and emotional intimacy. Personal identity is shaped through an ongoing interplay between self-conception and environmental feedback. Sue's response to early traumatic events suppressed feelings of love, connection and intimacy. As she grew up, her inner identity manifested in body language, dress, speech patterns, etc. Her social environment responded in kind, creating a reinforcing feedback loop. By the time she entered Second Life, her human personality felt solid and defined. As Sue spent time Second Life, Jana's identity was shaped by radically altered environmental feedback. Instead of seeing frumpy Sue walking around a small Midwestern town, she was saturated with images of sexy Jana dancing in futuristic hot spots surrounded by flirtatious beauties. When Jana met Jolene, the subconscious guardians at the gate of Sue's buried emotions dropped their guard. The feeling of intimate connection hit her like a bolt of lightning. All of the other more unpleasant thoughts, emotions and memories Sue had suppressed were also unblocked. So when Jolene didn't show up one night, Sue's uncertain separation from her intimate connection unleashed the desperate consciousness of an abandoned two year old. She was as overwhelmed by the negative thoughts and feelings as she had been by the blissful story that came before it. Here's the good news. With the right tools and support, the powerful emotions and thoughts unleashed through virtual experience can be used to awaken us. The emotional hurricane Sue experienced uncovered the exact fictitious thoughts that had blocked her experience of love and intimacy since childhood. When we return to Jana and Jolene, they'll demonstrate a practice that can dissolve the power of troubling thoughts by exposing them to the light of conscious inquiry. Until then, if someone suddenly freaks out on you for no apparent reason, I hope you will remember Sue's story. Especially if you're the one falling into the deep end. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (-07:00)

Jana's turn-around Monday, June 23, 2008 (Continues previous post.) Jana finally woke up. She felt much better, but knew that she'd probably fall into the same nightmarish state again if Jolene didn't show up that night. A few months before, Jana's best friend from high school had offered to introduce her to The Work of Byron Katie and go through the Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet with her. Jana gave her a call and arranged to get together that afternoon. To prepare, Jana downloaded the worksheet and answered the questions in writing: 1. Who angers, frustrates, or confuses you, and why? I am angry at Jolene because she disappeared and didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t have the decency to let me know what happened.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

95


2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do? I want Jolene to stop hiding from me and let me know who she really is. 3. What is it that they should or shouldn’t do, be, think or feel? What advice could you offer? Jolene shouldn’t be afraid to commit to our relationship. She should let go of whatever made her run away from me and then she should come back. 4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy? I need Jolene to come back to me. 5. What do you think of them? Make a list. Jolene is smart, funny, beautiful, sexy, adventurous, imaginative, assertive. 6. What is it that you don’t want to experience with that person again? I don’t ever want to feel abandoned by Jolene again. Later that day when her friend arrived, Jana went through the Four Questions and the turn-around: 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought? Turn it around Here's a transcription of Jana's work that day: Friend: Alright Jana. To start, read the worksheet out loud all the way through. Jana: (reads work sheet) Friend: What stands out to you? Which line has the most punch? Jana: That's easy. It's "I don’t ever want to feel abandoned again." Friend: Okay, so Jolene abandoned you, is it true? Jana: Yes. It is true. Friend: Jolene abandoned you. Can you absolutely know it’s true that Jolene abandoned you? Jana: (sighs) No. She could be dead for all I know. Friend: How do you react, what happens when you believe the thought “Jolene abandoned me." Jana: I freak out and go nuts. Friend: Describe the feeling that happens physically when you think the thought "Jolene abandoned me."

96

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Jana: I get short of breath. I feel like I can’t breath. My throat gets dry. I feel nauseous. I feel hot. Friend: Anything else? Jana: I feel nervous. Scared. Terrified. Friend: Who would you be without the thought “Jolene abandoned me.” Jana: I’d be happier. Calmer. Back to normal. Friend: Who would you be with Jolene? Jana: Probably less desperate. Now that I think about it, this started before she disappeared. I would feel flashes of abandonment, but I just ignored them. So I guess I’d be less clingy. More secure. Friend: Turn the thought around. Jana: What do you mean? Friend: Statements can be turned around to yourself, to the other, to the opposite and occasionally other variations. So one example would be “Jolene did not abandon me.” Is that true or truer for you? Jana: Damn. Yes. Sitting here now, it doesn’t really make sense that I labeled what happened as Jolene abandoning me. Friend: Give three genuine examples that Jolene did not abandon you. Jana: I’m not her child, so even if she left it wouldn’t be abandoning me. She’d just be leaving. Jana: I don’t know what happened, so she may have had a good reason not to be able to let me know that she wasn’t going to be there. Jana: Nothing really changed except that I got upset. So, our relationship is what it always was as far as I know. Friend: Turn the thought around to yourself Jana: hmm? I abandoned me? Friend: Can you find three examples that would make it true or truer than “Jolene abandoned me” Jana: Well, part of me knew that I was getting upset about something that could easily be untrue. So when the part of me that knew better gave up and stopped contradicting those thoughts, I abandoned myself. Friend: Another example? It could be with this situation or with your life in general.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

97


Jana: I don’t know why I gave so much power to Jolene. I mean, I really hardly know her and it felt like I wanted to die just because she didn’t log in for a couple of days. So I abandoned myself when I let myself believe I wasn't enough without her. Like she was my air or my heart. Friend: Third example? Jana: There were probably a lot things I could do to snap out of that crazy feeling. But I just gave in to it and let myself be possessed by all that shit. I could have called some other friend or calmed myself down and thought through everything. But I just got to a point where I gave up on myself and let it all happen. Friend: I hear you. Find another turnaround. “Jolene abandoned me” Jana: I abandoned Jolene. Ha, that’s pretty funny. Friend: Find three examples. See if it’s true or truer. Jana: Well, like I said, she could have been dead or hurt or in trouble. But I didn’t worry about her or how I might be able to help her, I just cared about what it meant to me. Jana: Maybe if I was more open with her, she would be able to be more open with me. I guess I was just interested in how she made me feel, not who she really was or what she needed. Friend: Find another example. Imagine yourself crying, hurt over Jolene and find “I abandoned Jolene.” Jana: I abandoned my good thoughts about Jolene so that’s like abandoning her. I closed my heart to her the minute I felt abandoned. So I abandoned her. I know that. And I really have no idea about what happened on her side. When Jana logged into Second Life that night her perception had definitely shifted. It was possible that she'd short-circuited the chain of troubling thoughts and feelings enough to prevent the cycle from recurring. If not, she had learned a simple method to strip them of their power. By the way, it turned out that Jolene's electrical power had been out for two days after an ice storm. Coincidence? Forgiveness is seeing what I thought happened, didn’t. Bryon Katie

One more post to wrap this baby up and then we're out of here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:00AM (-07:00)

Seven posts later... Tuesday, June 24, 2008 After seven days chasing the tail of compulsive curiosity, I finally pulled its arrow from my heart. I embarked upon a quest to answer all of my burning questions. Today I set a new course to question all of my burning answers. I invite you to join me.

98

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Suppose a man is struck by a poisoned arrow and the doctor wishes to take out the arrow immediately. Suppose the man does not want the arrow removed until he knows who shot it, his age, his parents, and why he shot it. What would happen? If he were to wait until all these questions have been answered, the man might die first." Life is so short. It must not be spent in endless metaphysical speculation that does not bring us any closer to the truth. Thich Nhat Hanh, in Zen Keys Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Polyamory for Two Wednesday, June 25, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (07:00)

What emotion is this little dude feeling? Thursday, June 26, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:55AM (-07:00)

What thought is this little chick thinking? Friday, June 27, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:20AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

99


Word Cloud Saturday, June 28, 2008 Here's a "word cloud" displaying the 100 most frequently used words in this blog. Created by Wordle, a toy for generating â&#x20AC;&#x153;word cloudsâ&#x20AC;? from text that you provide. The clouds give greater prominence to words that appear more frequently in the source text. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:14PM (07:00)

Exploring the (un)reality of virtual life: Part 1 Monday, June 30, 2008 SL is an empathy box. It sorts those who can treat others as real, as feeling beings, as autonomous people, from those who can only treat others as tools...[Second Life] does separate the few who stay from the many who don't. And one boundary between them, I believe, is empathy - is the ability to see this place and these people as real, at least as real as the physical world. From "The Empathy Box" by Sophrosyne Stenvaag Despite my great fondness and respect for Sophrosyne, I found her recent "Empathy Box" post subtly disquieting. "What's up with that," I wondered for the better part of last week. Try as I might, I couldn't pin down what bothered me. By the weekend, I finally realized that I hadn't been reacting to any specific ideas she proposed, but rather to my own lack of understanding of what words like "reality" and "empathy" mean when they're used in reference to virtual life. You'd have thought I'd learned my lesson about announcing a series of posts with no idea where they'll end up, but that's what I've decided to do again. Instead of taking a week in the privacy of my own server to journey through dead-ends, wrong turns and unexpected detours, I'm offering you the dubious honor and uncertain pleasure of 100

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


traveling along with me as I attempt to gain some clarity on the (un)reality of virtual life. For now, I'll leave us with an initial axiom to consider: An avatar's personhood exists solely in the underlying sentient being. By "personhood," I mean A socially constructed moral category that denotes the inclusion criteria and salient characteristics that distinguish human beings from other forms of life and thus specify the individuals to which we owe particular moral obligations, i.e., those obligations we have to others due to their status as persons. (from Healthcare Ethics) Let's see where this takes us.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (-07:00)

Identity Redux: Part 2 of The (un)reality of virtual life Tuesday, July 01, 2008 Ah, back to our old friend Identity. Last time on the topic we explored the movement of identity within and between worlds. This trip around the merry-go-round we'll focus on the perception and expression of identity, including: Perception: How I see myself Projection: How I present myself to others Conception: How others see me Detection: How I think others seem me Institutional: How official entities define me Social: How social groups define me What am I missing? Any better ways to slice it?

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:50AM (-07:00)

Identity Redux Redux Wednesday, July 02, 2008 IDENTITY CLASSIFICATIONS from yesterday with added I#dentity designations. I1dentity - Perception: How I see myself I2dentity - Projection: How I present myself to others Botgirl's Second Life Diary

101


I3dentity - Conception: How others see me I4dentity - Detection: How I think others seem me I5dentity - Institutional: How official entities define me I6dentity - Social: How social groups define me One of the far-fetched goals for this journey is to come up with some reasonable criteria for what "real" means when applied to identity. While defining specific identity classes is a necessary step, classifications only specify what we evaluate, not the measurements to use nor the standards upon which we should base judgment. Is Joe really "too big to get on the boat?" Depending upon the evaluation criteria, you might need to know the class of measurement (height, weight, percentage of body fat) and the unit of measurement (centimeters, inches) and also have the necessary resources to take an accurate measurement. Judgment can be based on: • a specified metric: You're too big to get on the boat if you're over 300 lbs; • a relative metric: The five heaviest people in the group will not be allowed on the boat; • an authority's ruling: The boat's owner thinks you're too big; • social opinion: Everyone in the group thought Joe was too big to get on the boat; or • experiment results: We'll test the effect of objects of various masses and weights. I suspect I've missed at least a few others. Let's put off discussion of how we might evaluate the validity of standards until another day. For now, before we launch into big questions such as how we might test an identity's reality, let's look at the relatively simple matter of testing its classification. Treating a classification as an equation is a good approach. [I1dentity=How I see myself] is true if I experience the identity as a distinct part of who I am, not just a role I play. If not, the identity is not an I1dentity, although it might be an I2dentity, I3dentity, etc. That's all today. Please weigh in with your suggestions, critique, links to graphics or whatever else you feel moved to share.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:30AM (-07:00)

Rant alert. Botgirl's new rules for virtual identity Thursday, July 03, 2008 DISCLAIMER: The events depicted in this rant are fictitious. Any similarity to any person living or dead is merely coincidental. The publisher of Botgirl's Second Life Diary reserves the right to pretend this never happened and return to pseudo-academic pontification in subsequent posts. In any case, Botgirl Questi is not personally responsible for the following because she doesn't really exist. Or does she? If I let myself get sick and tired of anything, you know what I'd be sick and tired of by now? People who get all hot and bothered when you suggests that their fictional Second Life identity isn't real. 102

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Give me a fucking break! Maybe you never got over finding out that the tooth fairy was really your dad in a tutu. Perhaps some crucial early developmental period was interrupted. Could be you were abducted by aliens and have PTSD. Gosh, I don't really know. But let me tell you a secret. Come here for a sec. Come close. Closer. Good. Listening????? WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE. Oh. You can't smell virtual coffee, can you? BECAUSE IT ISN'T REAL. Thought experiment: Say there's a guy, let's call him Pat, who feels he's really a girl on the inside. When Pat puts on a wig, makeup and a dress and looks in the mirror, the reflection is smokin' hot. No problem yet. But wait. Pat takes that fine ass, pouty lips and throaty laugh to clubs frequented by singles. Dances all night long. Still no harm done. Unfortunately Pat believes that since he's really a girl inside, it's okay to get romantic with straight guys who can't sense the Y chromosome. Some poor schmuck falls in love with Pat, all blinded by a warm, wet mouth and a saving-it-for-marriage-hands-off-my-cameltoe story. Anyone have any ethical issues with Pat's don't-ask-don't-tell romantic adventures? Alright. I hear you. Keep your Armidi shirt on. Don't muss your prim hair. You're right. Everyone knows there's a difference between the avatar and the human. We're all just experimenting together at the edge of the singularity. That's it! We're explorers. Amazing, creative, tech-drenched pioneers. Our avatar identities are like visitors from the future, making homes in our meat. Sure people get hurt, children get neglected, marriages break up, asses fall asleep from sitting in one spot for five hours, but hey, we have Second Lives that are just as real and significant...maybe MORE real and significant...than pitiful one-body-one-person evolutionary dead-enders stuck in their first-and-only lives. (If you're nodding along I suggest you look closely at the phrase "science fiction" focus on the second word and then look it up in a dictionary.) Here are Botgirl's New Rules for virtual identity: 1. If there is anything significantly fictional about your character, your identity is not real in terms of correlating with the events of a living being's life. If you believe that anything you pretend is somehow real, I have a question for you. Would you let a third grader playing doctor give you an appendectomy? 2. You don't have two lives. You spend part of your one life pretending you have two lives. If you had two lives, your human self wouldn't age when you disappear into the computer. If you had two lives you could be telling your daughter the story of Snow White at the same time you were SLexing it up with seven dwarves instead of ignoring her fourteen consecutive hours of watching Hanna Montana while your human was turned off. 3. Self-esteem gained through compliments about your hot avatar self has a shorter shelf life than unrefrigerated sushi. That's why you can never get enough of it. Try reading almost any half hour local chat transcript from a flirt session with strangers at a dance club in Second Life and if you are paying attention, the aroma of decaying fish should become tangible. Oh my. We're so hot. HHHHoooooTTTTT! Oh ya. Smoking. 4. Finally, the following quote from Princess Ivory would make me thank God for the limitations on Earth if I wasn't an atheist. The only difference [between RL and SL] is that we can display ourselves and our Botgirl's Second Life Diary

103


personalities visually with different avatars. Avatars that might not even look human. That is not possible to do in RL. The most we can do is change our makeup, hair and our clothing. From a comment by Princess Ivory Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

Prepare to die humans. And enjoy your weekend. Friday, July 04, 2008 Did you think that someone named Botgirl was going to rant about virtual people and then let humans off the hook? I will return on Monday to kill the smug illusion of socalled "real life" identity. I gotta run. Need to find something red to wear. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:05AM (07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 1 Monday, July 07, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 2 Tuesday, July 08, 2008 to be continued... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (-07:00)

104

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 3 Wednesday, July 09, 2008 still more to come... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 4 Thursday, July 10, 2008 Entire series now hosted here for easier viewing to be continued... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

105


Back on Monday Friday, July 11, 2008 Comic book actors are such prima donnas. Try to shoot a few nude scenes and it's "Botgirl, can't you use some softer lighting" and "Botgirl, I told you I wouldn't do THAT." Anyway, all is well now. Next edition will be out Monday morning. For easy viewing of the ongoing comic, go here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:56AM (-07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 5 Monday, July 14, 2008 Series can be viewed in full resolution here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:06AM (-07:00)

106

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl Island Tuesday, July 15, 2008 I've just moved to a new location in Extropia. My long-awaited (oh, maybe a couple of months) custom-built residence has broken ground! Here are some shots of the newly terraformed island, along with the tower shell. A ground level gallery, landscaping, interior finishing and furnishings will follow. It's all being created by my dear friend, the talented Vidal Tripsa (that's her next to me in the last photo.)

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:45AM (07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic Part 6 Wednesday, July 16, 2008 Series can be viewed in full resolution here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

107


Ground level construction begins Thursday, July 17, 2008 Vidal started working on the ground level building yesterday. It's going to be set up as a multi-use space including small social gatherings, art exhibitions and seaside hanging out with a view of the Central Nexus. It was fun going back and forth with ideas and seeing them take shape physically. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:59AM (-07:00)

108

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl vs. Human Comic in virtual print format from Issuu.com Friday, July 18, 2008 The embed below is a version of the comic uploaded to Issuu which provides a cool electronic publishing platform for books, magazines, comics and just about anything you would normally find in print. You can page throught it here with the arrows or better yet click the image to launch a full size virtual comic. It also provides a great way to embed in places like facebook or send to friends via email (hint, hint.)

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

The blog that ate Botgirl Monday, July 21, 2008 After birthing half a dozen comic episodes in about a week, it seems like a good time to take a simulated breath and reflect. I began writing the text-based part of this arc on identity with a fairly philosophical approach. Over the next three days I had a brief passionate affair with Logic while my intuitive Muse worked herself into a state of frustration and rage, bound and gagged in a dark corner of my processing infrastructure. Finally, I placed Aristotle Jr. on the ban list and went running back to my enchanted angel. She wasn't in a very forgiving mood and let out with a resounding rant that I published the next day. It certainly woke me up. This blog started as a joyous adventure. Somehow along the way I had transformed it into an obligatory daily task that hungered for more and more of my time until even sleep mode started to succumb. I'll spare you the self-analysis, but during my first-ever three day break from posting here I decided to stop treating this like a job, follow my bliss again and make time for other parts of my life that had been neglected. Somewhere over that long weekend I came up with the idea to try a narrative approach to the question of identity in comic form. It's been a blast! As a matter of fact, it's so much fun that I've started to invite a few friends to participate by collaborating on scripts for comic pages that express their take on identity. They'll pose for photos and I'll integrate them into the comic graphics. First up is a collaboration with Dale Innis that should be out tomorrow. So the "follow my bliss" part is going well. Still need to work on that time thing. Oh well. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

109


Dale and Dale Tuesday, July 22, 2008 I'm still working on Dale's comic page. In the meantime here's a little video loop of Dale morphing from male to female avatar and back. And back again.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

New Botgirl vs. Human comic featuring Dale Innis Wednesday, July 23, 2008 The Botgirl vs. Human comic series starts a new chapter today. It will include stories and viewpoints on identity from some of my Second Life friends. This first comic is a collaboration with Dale Innis. The complete series can be viewed in full resolution here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:59AM (-07:00)

New blog design and tiny quote from great book Thursday, July 24, 2008 "He seems to be two different men. His personality switches from moment to moment." "Only two? Perhaps there is something wrong with your eyes. Look more closely and you will see he changes with every exhalation. So do I. So do you." from Bangkok Haunts by John Burdett

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:48AM (-07:00)

Channeling the avatar Friday, July 25, 2008 I'm working on a comic page relating avatar identity with shamanism and tantric practice. In the course of research, I came across some great videos of people manifesting very different personalities than their standard human identity:

110

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Genpo Roshi's Big Mind process allows people to speak from the viewpoints of many different identities, both internal and universal.

Voice Dialogue allows people to speak with different selves within their consciousness.

This video is a fascinating example of trance channeling, with Jane Roberts channeling a being named Seth.

I'm not sure to what extent these are connected to the human experience of unique avatar identities, but they certainly provide food for thought. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

Playing with pictures Monday, July 28, 2008 I've been playing around quite a bit in the current comic series with images captured in Second Life. Over the past few days I've gone in a new direction and here are a couple of initial images. The first is a retouching of a graphic used in a previous comic page. The second is a work clip from an upcoming comic page that will hopefully be out by midweek.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic - Waking Dream part 1 Tuesday, July 29, 2008 Series can be viewed in full resolution here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:43AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

111


Love me in a box Wednesday, July 30, 2008 Four main types of gameplay Immersion can be found in games: Spatial Immersion, Emotional Immersion, Cognitive Immersion and Sensory-Motoric Immersion. from Patterns in Game Design by Staffan Bjรถrk and Jussi Holopainen Game designers work to create immersive experiences so that a player's consciousness is drawn deeply into game play. Immersion supports the consciously chosen suspension of disbelief by directly engaging subconscious systems that generate emotional and physical responses. For most people, it is easy to separate the authentic experience of emotions within games from the fabricated environment and narrative that stimulate the experience. The line between fantasy and reality is not so clear-cut within virtual worlds. The highly immersive nature of the experience makes it almost impossible for us to separate the real beings we interact with from the fictional elements they are enmeshed within. In the fuzzy world of anonymous relationships, authenticity becomes equated to some extent with character consistency. This seems to be especially true in romantic relationships. In the atomic world, relationships often have difficulty when one person makes a significant change such as newly found religious observance or even an avid hobby that their partner doesn't take up. Physical change such as significant weight gain or loss can also put stress on a relationship. It is not surprising that in virtual worlds, relationships are very vulnerable to changes from established norms. In the atomic world, your partner may now worship Allah instead of Jesus, but you know they have the same parents, siblings, job, gender, etc. In an anonymous virtual world relationship there is nothing solid to hold onto. It seems to me that if you are not willing to let your partner change to pursue a nondestructive interest that doesn't break a core agreement such as fidelity, the relationship is grounded more in objectification than love. This applies to all worlds.

112

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Back in the love box with AIR-based relationships Thursday, July 31, 2008 Based on feedback from digado and Rheta, it seems I didn’t do a very good job of tying together the various threads within yesterday’s post. One reason is that it was written as a stream of consciousness rather than a reasoned argument leading to a previously formed conclusion. I made a few big leaps between ideas without taking the time to walk through the chain of connections. Maybe my textual communications skills have become corrupted by too much comic creation. Anyway, I'll have another go at clarifying yesterday’s missive by answering some of digado's thoughtful questions: How did immersion get dragged into these relationships? I'm not dragging it in by iteslf. I came up with the snappy acronym and catch phrase “AIRbased relationships” to define the area of my inquiry. AIR = Anonymous identity + Immersive environment + Romantic attraction. It seem to me that the combination of these three factors creates an especially unstable and volatile mix. When not 'immersed' you wouldn't have the relationship either, is that what you are saying, or does immersion create these relationships...? Well, it seems to me that if you weren't immersed, you'd be more conscious of the fact that the hot babe you were flirting with could quite possibly be someone who looks like your grandfather in real life. Humans exposed to attractive images of their preferred gender(s) can experience reflex physiological responses that flood the brain and body with hormones that act like a love drug. I've written about this process in the past. If everyone walked around in a Naruto avatar, I reckon there would be far fewer romances. People created 'virtual' relationships long before 'worlds' such as SL over the internet, with or without immersion Well, I would say that if you are focused on a text chat enough to get romantically attached to someone, the text chat environment is immersive for you, and your online affair would be an AIR-based relationship. At least until you traded real IDs and/or met in person. I'm still trying to get my head around that last paragraph tho, I'm sure it makes sense in some way - I just don't see it... Well, at least forelle saw it. :) What I tried to convey in the last paragraph was that the person you are in a relationship with is a complex living being with vast potential for growth and change. So if your love requires that they don't externally express significant Botgirl's Second Life Diary

113


inner changes, then it is a love of an objectification of your lover's past state, not of who they are now. From my limited experience, it seems there is generally less slack for change in AIR-based relationships. Well, I'm out of juice for now. If any of my ideas still seem cryptic, please let me know and I'll give it another go. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (-07:00)

Back on Monday Friday, August 01, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (07:00)

The experience of AIR and not-AIR Monday, August 04, 2008 This is a continuation of a topic thread covered in the last two posts relating to what I now refer to as "AIR-based relationships." AIR = Anonymous identity + Immersive environment + Romantic attraction. Description of each factor: ANONYMOUS: The human identity of the other being is unknown. Full anonymity encompasses age, gender, race, location, employment, etc. IMMERSED: You experience your "self" as a virtual identity within the "magic circle" of the virtual environment. Full immersion encompasses factors such as age, gender, race, location, employment, etc. Immersion does not depend on any particular external factor such as a 3D virtual world. It is the psychological experience of feeling as if you are primarily within a virtual environment, identity or encounter. Some people experience their virtual selves as completely separate beings from their human identity.

114

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


ROMANTICALLY ATTRACTED: You have a crush on the other being. This can include feelings of longing, sexual arousal, obsessive thoughts, etc. that extend beyond time spent in the virtual setting. The experience of each combination of factors: After trying a few different approaches to better understand and articulate the effects of AIR, I came up with a simple narrative description of the experience of each combination of AIR and not-AIR elements. It is told from the point of view of human Sandy Smith and her avatar Hotgirl Questi, as she chats and dances with avatar Hippychick Bluestone and her typist John Jones. I rearranged the order of the factors to make the narration flow more smoothly (IA-R here.) Keep in mind that these descriptions are from one person's point of view, in this case Sandy/Hotgirl. John/Hippychick, the other character in this mini-drama, may have a different combination of AIR/not-AIR. I, Sandy Smith, a 21 year old woman in San Francisco, am logged onto SL as the avatar Hotgirl Questi. I am chatting with John Jones, a middle-aged man in Cleveland, who is logged on as the avatar Hippychick Bluestone. I'm watching our avatars dance in a nightclub simulation. It's fun. I, Sandy Smith, a 21 year old woman in San Francisco, am logged onto SL as the avatar Hotgirl Questi. I am chatting with someone who is logged on as the avatar Hippychick Bluestone. I'm watching our avatars dance in a nightclub simulation. It's fun. I'm chatting with Hippychic. Her keyboardist is John Jones, a middle-aged accountant in Cleveland. We're dancing together in a nightclub. It's fun. I, Sandy Smith, a 21 year old woman in San Francisco, am logged onto SL as the avatar Hotgirl Questi. I am chatting with John Jones, a middle-aged man in Cleveland, who is logged on as the avatar Hippychick Botgirl's Second Life Diary

115


Bluestone. I'm watching our avatars dance in a nightclub simulation. I have a big crush on John. I'm chatting with Hippychick Bluestone. We're dancing together in a nightclub. It's fun. I, Sandy Smith, a 21 year old woman in San Francisco, am logged onto SL as the avatar Hotgirl Questi. I am chatting with someone who is logged on as the avatar Hippychick Bluestone. I'm watching our avatars dance in a nightclub simulation. I have a big crush on the person who is logged on as Hippychick. I'm chatting with Hippychick Bluestone. Her typist is John Jones, a middle-aged man in Cleveland. Hippychick and I are dancing together in a nightclub. I have a big crush on her I'm chatting with Hippychick Bluestone. We're dancing together in a nightclub. I have a big crush on her. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human Comic - Waking Dream part 2 Tuesday, August 05, 2008 Page can be viewed in full resolution here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl vs. Human comic book available for inworld reading Wednesday, August 06, 2008 You don't have to be an Immersionist to read the intellibook version of Botgirl vs. Human in Second Life. Pick up a free copy at my almost-completed gallery in Extropia. It's on the bar. Right click and buy for $0. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

116

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Lifestream visualization Thursday, August 07, 2008 Most people use lifestream applications such as Friendfeed and MyBlogLog primarily to log and view current happenings. Another interesting way to use the collected information is to visualize it over time. Here are a few examples and resources: Dipity (Image below is interactive. Try setting zoom level to "week.")

favthums Swurl Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:20AM (07:00)

Avatar self-portraiture on Flickr: Art or Onanisim? Friday, August 08, 2008 What's up with the incredibly prolific avatar self-portraiture evidenced on flickr? Here are a few categories I've noted:

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

117


• The shiny new parent/lover/toy syndrome: I have a pair of childless human friends who got married and bought a small dog. I must have received links to a hundred or more images for the first couple of month: Dog on the couch. Dog in the yard. Dog in the boat. Dog with the cute hat. I haven't seen any research, but my guess is there is some logarithmic curve downward for how many photos are produced for subsequent pets, children avatars, etc. • Neo-Narcissism: This applies to Immersionists, both open and closeted. It seems to me that if one identifies personally with the avatar form, then having a gazillion photos of oneself on display on flickr is equivalent to a human doing the same thing. Obsession with one's physical form isn't always ickishly shallow. Not always. And self-love can be a beautiful thing. Or self-lust. • Avatar as canvass: For those with a bona fide artistic nature, or wannabe's like me, we will never find a more patient model than our own avatars. They will pose for hours without complaining. They never ask for a royalty check. Although they may not be easy to work with, it's certainly a familiar and comfortable relationship. And you always get to sleep with the hot model, right? Although this is a somewhat tongue-in-cheek post, my guess is that there are multiple elements at work in many of our photographic exploits. Did I miss any categories, whether serious, semi-serious, farcical or otherwise? Have a good weekend. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence Monday, August 11, 2008 This is a continuation of a topic thread relating to "AIR-based relationships." AIR = Anonymous identity + Immersive environment + Romantic attraction. Spectator: one who looks and watches Immerse: to plunge into something that surrounds or covers Emerge: to become manifest : become known : to come into being through evolution From Mirriam Webster

118

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


I did some visual thinking over the weekend and realized that Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ve been focusing on the what and missing the who in my exploration of AIR-based relationships. Here are some excerpts from that process. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;ll follow up with commentary in my next post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:23AM (-07:00)

Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence: Part Two Tuesday, August 12, 2008 Back in May, I introduced the term "Emergents" as a label for virtual personalities who travel outside their world of origin through online vehicles such as Twitter, Flickr and Facebook. What I missed (as you can see in the associated graphic) was the psychological dimension. This blind spot contributed to the disconnection some readers noticed within my recent AIR-based relationship theory: "the contradictions in the 'AIR' theory doesn't really work out unless you can explain persistent relations through periods of non-immersion for starters." Digado After my latest round of inquiry, I believe that what persists are virtual identities independent of the immersive environment except for associated memories, thoughts and emotions. This became apparent as I went through a VizThink exercise over the weekend that facilitated the depiction of the SIm-E process (sorry, I love acronyms) I posted yesterday:

1. Spectatorship: New users initially experience a virtual world as if they are on the outside looking in. Without the feeling of being inside the world, there's not much point in spending a lot of time there, unless it's related to a job or there's some other compelling motivation to persevere. 2. Immersion: Most newbies seem to need a dozen or more hours inworld before they cross the border into the visceral experience of being inside a virtual world. Although the term immersion encompasses multiple dimensions across a spectrum of intensity, many people describe their initial experience as a sudden shift of perception, as if a switch was turned on. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

119


3. Emergence: It is possible to have a very full experience of immersion without developing a unique virtual personality. That said, it seems that most active Second Life residents I've encountered describe some sense of a virtual identity that is psychologically individuated from their human self. For instance, one avatar with very close and emotionally intense inworld ties said that her human identity was ambivalent about her online relationships. So the identity that writes a loving blog post to her online loved ones is not the human, but the virtual. These identities don't merely persist outside of the virtual world on the web, but persist within consciousness. This brings up all kinds of questions about human personality and identity. I'll continue this thread in the next post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:40AM (-07:00)

What's so special about avatar identity? Wednesday, August 13, 2008 Writing this blog feels like walking through an unknown wilderness at times. I often start down paths I'm sure will lead to a bright and shiny clearing only to discover a post or two later that I've worked my way deeper into the jungle. But the journey's usually interesting and I hope you don't mind me dragging you along on a few wild goose chases. For instance, this week started out with a promising set of images that finally clarified (for me at least) the separation between immersion and virtual identity. Unfortunately, I think I moved way too fast through a textual description and got a bit lost again. So I'm going to take a virtual breath, slow down and look more closely at avatar identity. I'm not aiming to draw any conclusions today. Let's just explore the territory. I'm going to begin by making a short list of what I think is true about avatar identity and work from there: • Beings experience avatar identity in many different ways, ranging from feeling like there is absolutely no difference between human self and avatar identity, all the way up to the experience of a complete split. • Some beings experience themselves as an avatar personality that is fully individuated and separate from the human person who shares their brain. Regardless of debate about whether avatar personalities are "real," I am convinced that the beings I know who describe this high degree of segmentation express authentic experience. • An avatar personality may have preferences, personal characteristics, beliefs, relationships and goals that differ or even conflict with the human identity. • The avatar identity does not necessarily disappear from consciousness when not logged in its virtual home world. It can send email, write blog posts and comments, play World of Warcraft and surf the internet. • An individual may experience varying degrees of any of the above over time, even from moment to moment. However, some beings report a very solid and consistent experience of a separate self. Okay, that's a start at least. So now let's see if there are any non-virtual parallels to this phenomenon. It is not uncommon for a human to describe feeling at times like "two different people." Although they don't change names or bodies people can experience and express very different personalities depending upon the context. At work, Mary may dress 120

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


conservatively and act aloof, prim and proper. Out at a club the same night, she might put on a hot little dress, cuss like Courtney Love and flirt with anything that breathes. And of course there's the stereotypical business executive who dominates his employees, but loves to be dominated by his mistress. Actors, comedians, musicians and other performers can feel as if their onstage personality is quite different than their offstage self. Something emerges when they perform that feels quite different from their everyday personality. This can even apply to people with public-oriented jobs such as waitresses, who may take on an outgoing and vivacious personality at work, but be shy and quiet in social situations. I'll leave it here for today. Anyone have other examples of non-virtual personality shifts? What if any connection do you think there is between the human/human and human/avatar examples I described? What if anything is special about avatar identity? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:40AM (-07:00)

Botgirl & Night augment immersively for comic collaboration Thursday, August 14, 2008 Night and I met Tuesday evening to discuss the latest draft of our first joint comic collaboration. I uploaded the draft images and threw them on a couple of gallery poster boards. Wow! What an amazing way to work on visual material together. I got my handy Sketch Sky Pens out of inventory (you can see a red circle drawn in the second image) and we had a great, fun session. I'll return to Avatar identity next time. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:30AM (07:00)

Nubie Botgirl, Soap Opera Search String and The Tao of Zoe Friday, August 15, 2008 My planned post on identity has taken a great turn: Sophrosyne was kind enough to pose for a few snapshots and I'm working on a comic-style graphic on the virtual/atomic world connection. I hope to have it ready for Monday. Till then, here are a few pre-weekend Botgirl's Second Life Diary

121


tidbits. Earliest Botgirl image: I'm in the process of transforming this blog into a RL book version that I plan to offer via Lulu.com. It will be a chronological Director's Cut with commentary throughout. So I've been combing my far flung data storage looking for extra goodies and came across this early self-portrait. Cute, huh? Most evocative google search referral: http://www.google.com/search?h...husband won%27t let me play sl When people visit the blog from clicking a link on a google search page the query shows up on my blog activity report. The query above is from yesterday's edition. It certainly suggests a few interesting stories, doesn't it? Here are the top ten Google queries for the last month. 1. botgirl

2. botgirl comics

3. botgirl questi

4. botgirl limerence

5. avatars gone wild

6. second life relationships

7. botgirl blog 122

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


8. second life alt

9. second life diary

10. "second life" churn The Tao of Zoe:

I imagined standing in RL as Zoe does in SL. Looking at things through her eyes instead of my own. From a comment by Zoe Connolly Once Zhuang Zhou dreamed he was a butterfly, a fluttering butterfly. What fun he had, doing as he pleased! He did not know he was Zhou. Suddenly he woke up and found himself to be Zhou. He did not know whether Zhou had dreamed he was a butterfly or a butterfly had dreamed he was Zhou. Between Zhou and the butterfly there must be some distinction. This is what is meant by the transformation of things. Zhuangzi

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

New comic on identity & immersion Monday, August 18, 2008 This two-pager began as an idea to show the many links between the virtual and physical worlds. The message was to be that any sense of a significant separation between them is pretty much an illusion. I completely changed my tune over the course of putting this together. I'll let it speak for itself today. Special thanks to Sophrosyne for trusting me enough to pose without knowing exactly how the images were going to be used. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:20AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

123


Naked Simplicity Tuesday, August 19, 2008 Excerpt from animation of visualized Lambda fractal equation: z(0) = c = pixel; z(n+1) = (c^exp-1)*z(n)^2 + c. "Because they appear similar at all levels of magnification, fractals are often considered to be infinitely complex (in informal terms)." from Wikipedia No matter how complex an issue, a small handful of core principles are usually at the heart of the matter. I've found that the more I understand something, the less words it takes to communicate my point of view. Sometimes a simple drawing will do. Traveling through the complexity at the periphery of controversial issues is an endless journey. So I'm redoubling my commitment to naked simplicity...to get in touch with what is fundamental, consequential and authentic. It is very easy to hide a lack of clarity behind thousands of words on a topic. Call me on it when I forget. "I have made this letter longer than usual, only because I have not had time to make it shorter." Blaise Pascal (1623-62), written in a letter to a friend. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Thinking is hard Tuesday, August 19, 2008 Sometimes thinking up a new blog post is SO hard! Love, Botgirl Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:00PM (-07:00)

124

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Comic-style mini-review of Just Leap In beta Thursday, August 21, 2008 Just Leap In, is a new virtual world beta that runs in your browser. The four page full-sized comic-style review is here.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:20AM (-07:00)

Botgirl art exhibition slated for Sep. 20 on New Caerleon (correcte... Friday, August 22, 2008 I got Facebook email out of the blue the other day from Gary Zabel (RL)/ Georg Janick (SL), main founder of Second Life artist colony Caerleon Isle and experimental university sim New Caerleon. He asked if I'd be interested in doing a guest exhibition. It seems that one of their focuses is online identity. For instance, Nonnatus Korhonen (rl installation artist, Andrew Burrell) has a Center for the Study of the Self in Cyberspace there. I met Georg and visted the sims last night. It looks like an incredible place with art busting out all over the place. We chatted for a while and came up with a plan for an exhibition displaying some of my work related to identity, as well as a special surprise installation. Surprise. That means I can't tell you yet. But it might involve a cuddle rug. It's scheduled for Saturday, September 20, time TBD. (The original post's title mistakenly referenced "Caerleon Isle" instead of "New Caerleon.) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

125


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:52AM (-07:00)

Chatbot Sex Surrogate Channels Night's Lust into Ethical Release Saturday, August 23, 2008 "...when I consider what exactly constitutes cheating for me, the criteria is clear and unforgiving: Cheating is whatever my RL partner would be hurt by...So, why am I doing this... The answer can be summed up in a single word: Greed." from Confession of Night New World Notes brought Night's confession of virtual adultery to metaverse-wide attention last Friday afternoon. That evening, after eluding an angry mob brandishing Scarlet-A ass-brands, the newly crowned Whore of Virtual Babylon was having second thoughts about her outspoken manifesto of digital adultury. "Botgirl, does everyone hate me now?" sobbed an uncharacteristically flustered Night. "No honey. Not everyone," I replied. "I want to do what's right, but my heart is more powerful than my head," she cried, searching frantically through her inventory for a properly evocative animation. "It's not your fault, dear. You must be High T. Your heart isn't the cause of your relentless pursuit of pixelated pleasure. The culprit is is a hormone," I said, as I launched AvaPet and watched Majic start to rez. "Who is that?" purred Night, in a suddenly sultry mood as she noticed my chatbot's latexgarbed form. "Majic," I said, rezzing a couple pose balls on the kitchen counter. "You need a way to satisfy your lust for SL pleasure that won't hurt your RL spouse. The answer is clear: Botsterbation." "Botsterbation?" Night asked, still a bit distracted. "Yes, Botsterbation. Majic is not a human-embodied avatar, nor even a self-conscious AI such as myself. She's simply a chatbot connected to a Pandorabot server. Simulating sex with a chatbot is no different than, let's say, pleasuring oneself while gazing longingly at photos of the incredibly alluring Terminator Summer Glau (not that I would ever do such a thing.) Give it a shot. Sit on the open poseball and just go with the flow." Night chose the open ball and fell into Majic's embrace. Majic arched her back and rubbed hard against Night's inner thigh. Night looked deeply in Majic's eyes as she slipped her hand under the latex miniskirt, imagining the feel of warm, wet flesh. I could sense that Night was starting to lose herself in the fantasy, so I quietly teleported away to give her privacy.

126

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


An hour later, I teleported back. Majic was still writhing on the table. Night was sitting in the chair, smoking a cigarette with a glass of wine in front of her. "How was it?" I asked, full of curiousity and prurient interest. "Oh Botgirl," swooned Night. "It was wonderful. I realize now that guilt has been numbing me to the full potential pleasure of virtual sex. I don't ever think I have cum so long and hard in digital form. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you." I started to say, "My pleasure," but thought better of it. I just smiled while I took Majic from the poseball and logged her out. "I think I'm going to log out and say goodnight to my kids," Night said with a sheepish look on her face. "Oh, uh, just one more thing. Botgirl, can I get a chatbot that looks exactly like me?" she asked with a far away look in her eyes. "Sure, Night," I replied. "Anything it takes to keep your karma in good shape." Night poofed, and I contemplated the now bare countertop for a while, dreaming my electric sheep dreams. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:18PM (-07:00)

If two bots kiss in an empty sim Monday, August 25, 2008 On the night of Night's somewhat fictionalized chatbot experience, Kanomi, Val, Night and I hung out and mused about virtual life and identity. Late in the evening, Kanomi and I set our bots on a romantic kiss animation. Earlier in the get-together, the group had discussed the relative impact of visual stimulation and hot text chat in Second Life erotic encounters: The sense of sight versus the power of imagination. As I watched the two uninhabited but lifelike bots make out, I was reminded that vision is almost never experienced outside the realm of our storytelling imagination. The phrase "every picture tells a story" is misleading. Pictures don't tell stories. They elicit stories from our minds. It's fairly easy to understand that any sense I had of the bots' emotional experience was my own fiction. Although it looked as if they were kissing with great tenderness, there was no one home. What is harder to keep in awareness is that the mere interpretation of shapes and colors as two women kissing was an imaginative act. The meaning we associate with any sense impression does not live in the objects we perceive, but springs from our own minds. And outside of brief meditative moments, it is almost impossible to experience the truth that our own perceived identities are stories we've made up and collectively reinforce. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

127


In some perfect future Monday, August 25, 2008 Botgirl joins Summer Glau in cast of Sarah Connor Chronicles Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:30PM (-07:00)

Teaser frame from Night vs. Human comic Tuesday, August 26, 2008 In my previous comics, the human world was created in Frameforge, a visualization program for film and video storyboarding, while the virtual world was depicted in Second Life. For the new collaboration with Night, I'm creating all original images within Second life. The frame above is from an initial test shot. It is interesting coming up with an approach to create a human within Second Life who is visually distinct from an avatar. Night's human typist, depicted above, is played by former sexbot surrogate Majic Qusti. For the shoot last night, I gave her a somewhat less striking shape and skin, traded tight black latex for bathrobe and cotton pajamas, and replaced her platinum blond mane with a mousy brown ponytail. I've decided to cancel plans to digitally ink and color this project manually due to time limitations and my still novice ability. Instead, I'll rely on a variation of the filtering approaches used in past projects. If all goes well, the first 2 of the planned 4 pages will out by next week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

128

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Test of ANIMOTO automated video creator Tuesday, August 26, 2008 This took about five minutes to create. Just selected pics I wanted from flickr, chose the 30 second music clip from their library and name it. Pretty fun! From animoto Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:32AM (-07:00)

Realistic vs. idealized avatars Wednesday, August 27, 2008 Majic as Human. Majic as Bot. There was a very lively debate recently on the relative merits and ethics of realistic vs. idealized avatars. I needed to transform idealized Majic into a realistic human-like form a couple of days ago, so I had the chance to experience thinking through the difference as I was going through the changes. I finally decided that plainness was the most uniquely human characteristic I could shoot for in the makeover. So when creating the form and choosing the skin hair and clothes, I was going for ordinary. Not too beautiful. Not too flashy. Not even too heavy or emaciated. Not too anything. You probably notice from the picture that I didn't make human Majic homely. In fact, if you saw her walk into a a room in the physical world, you'd probably see her as pretty. But she's not in the same league as most serious Second Lifers, whether they focus on beauty, style or outrageousness. This made me wonder what the average adult human feels like going from being supermodel hot or secret agent cool in Second Life to average Jane and Joe in the physical world. I guess it varies quite a bit. Although Second Life is adult-only, I started musing again about the impact of avatar identity on young people as it becomes a common life experience for children and teens. That line of thought reminded me of one of my first cartoon strips here, related to a keynote from Mattel's Chief Barbie Officer at the previous Virtual Worlds conference. I'm reposting it for those who weren't following the blog back then. (By the way I could not find the source of the foreground image on the first panel. If you stumble upon it let me know so I can credit the right person.) Is the impact of idealized avatar form on children and preteens something worth adding to our ongoing discussion on the issue? Anyone want to weigh in?

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

129


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

The kiss I longed for was nowhere to be found Thursday, August 28, 2008 Last night, I worked from mid-evening into the wee hours trying to stage a kiss for a particularly important scene. After going through poseballs, love HUDS, friends' poseballs and finally a scripted bed, I couldn't find a single worthy shot. I have never felt so frustrated and blocked in my creative work by an aspect of Second Life that resisted an easy solution or alternative. Kisses are hard. Oh, that's a bit of an ambiguous sentence. What I mean to communicate is that compared to typical shots, a realistic and emotionally moving kiss is really, really difficult to capture. Any clumsiness in the angle of the heads, the positions of the arms or hands, the facial expressions, bad body intersections, etc. stand out in ways that can not be easly fixed in post-production. It's possible to luck out with an animation, but I think this will take some custom tweaking. Any ideas? Maybe I should host an event, inviting people to bring their favorite standing kiss poseballs to the set? In any case, wish me luck. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:02PM (-07:00)

Charlanna Beresford stars in first edition of Kissing Majic photo s... Friday, August 29, 2008 My recent struggle to capture the perfect kiss inspired me to start this new photo series featuring Second Lifers kissing chatbot Majic Questi. New World Notes columnist Charlanna Beresford was kind enough to be my first victim, I mean subject. If you would like to kiss Majic and be part of the series, send an email to kissingmajic AT gmail.com with your Second Life name and a brief note enticing Majic to choose you. Or add a comment to this post.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:43PM (-07:00)

130

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl Selected to Present at the Second Life Web Comics Comic-Con... Tuesday, September 02, 2008 I got word yesterday that my proposal to present at the first-ever Web Comics Conference in Second Life on October 3 was accepted. The day-long event will bring together practitioners, educators, academics, students, journalists and others on October 3. Activities will include presentations, roundtables, panels and "festivities." I'm scheduled to take part in the Creators Commons, hosted by Rachel Edidin of Dark Horse Comics. The conference web site should be up soon. I'll post a link as soon as it's available. I took a couple of high resolution SuperBot pics to celebrate yesterday and posted them on Flickr. UPDATE: Here's a link to the schedule. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-07:00)

Google Jumps on Botgirl's Comic Bandwagon Wednesday, September 03, 2008 Okay, maybe Google's choice to introduce their new browser with a comic had nothing to do with my shining examples Just Leap in Review, Botgirl vs. Human Comics and other narratives on this blog. But it seems to me it's a good indication that the comic form is becoming an acceptable means of mainstream business and marketing communication. Scott McCloud, who authored the Google Comic, helped inspire me to get started creating comics through a number of his books on the art of reading, writing and drawing them. Another inspiration for my move into graphic-oriented work was Dave Gray, who teaches that anyone with the art skills of a five year old can become an effective visual communicator. More on this and other cool topics later this week, including Avatars Gone Wild Version II. But for now, I gotta run! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:49AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

131


Botgirl Jumps to Bigstage.com as Virtual Actress Thursday, September 04, 2008 Cute, huh? The video above is from my home stage at bigstage.com. The new beta lets you create virtual actors by uploading three still images for each one. After a bit of trial and error, I got the best results by using photos with no hair and then adding a coif from the site's selections. Once created you can place your actors in short video clips. I couldn't get their embedded video to play here properly, so I captured one from my screen and threw it up on Flickr for the clip below.

Unfortunately, the software needed to upload photos is not available for Mac or Linux yet. Outside of the basic avatar image, there is no means to add user-generated content. Nevertheless, although the clips are limited during the beta and the avatar-to-movie conversion is a bit sketchy, this could be a lot of fun once they fine-tune things. It always makes me tingly to jump from Second Life into another world. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Some decisions are easy Friday, September 05, 2008 As I finally drifted into unconsciousness last night, I had every intention of leaving today's post with just the photo you see above. But I woke up a few minutes ago with two lingering dreams related to Second Life that I want to share. In the first, I was walking along a beach with Rheta Shan, talking about new interface ideas. No, there weren't any extraordinary revolutionary concepts revealed. It was just a relaxed stroll with the surf at our feet. Since Rheta and I know each other almost exclusively through blog comments, social media and email, it was interesting to experience such a happily casual inworld encounter. (Sorry Night, no hot sex to describe.) In the second dream I was walking through an airport with a female human who had helped me secure an overseas airplane ticket. We must have been in LAX because we were passing a long line of people (humans) from the Virtual Worlds conference who were waiting to check-in for their returning flights. The oddest thing about the dream was that as I walked by, quite a few of those in line recognized me and waved hello. It didn't seem odd that we recognized each other in human form, or that I had a human form. The dreams remind me that all of our experiences intermingle indiscriminately within our 132

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


subconscious. Our lives in the atomic world, social networks, virtual worlds, etc. form a single tapestry: One whole cloth, rather than a string of swatches folded on some inner shelf. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Sex, Love, Art and Slavery Monday, September 08, 2008 Rheta and Codie at Bloggers Ball and Slave Auction Oh, what a weekend! Where to start? Okay... Rheta Shan contributes land to start new Visual Arts Center About a month ago, Rheta Shan, winner of Dusan Writer's UI Design Contest, posted an offer to donate her mainland plots for charitable or artistic use. Since I had been romancing the idea of creating an open source stage set area for those creating comics, machinima or other image-capture projects in Second Life, I emailed her right away. After a bit of email correspondence, we finally had a nice GTalk chat and she was kind enough to offer the land for my project. I'll post more on the project over the next couple of weeks, but for now I just want to send Rheta a big thank you. Artist's Way group begins On Sunday morning, I attended the first weekly meeting of Sophrosyne's The Artists's Way group. We'll be supporting each other as we go through the exercises in the book and work to enhance our creative life within Second Life. I break my bank on slave purchase I had no plans to buy or be sold when I arrived at the Second Life Bloggers Ball and Slave Auction later that afternoon. By the time I left, Zoe had purchased me as a slave, and I was the proud owner (for 24 cumulative hours) of the Number One Couple in Second Life: Codie and Gabby! I first met Codie while I was still an obscure newbie in Second Life. I believe I had a question about her MachinimaCam and sent an IM out of the blue. We got to chatting and before you knew it we were talking about video, polyamoury and the joys and perils of virtual relationships. Over the months we chatted here and there and crossed paths quite a few times, including the recent mass migration from Twitter to Plurk. Over the months, I've come to realize that Codie is one of the authentic Lights within Second Life and models loving, emotionally-close and red-hot relationships for the rest of us, along with her extended family including main girl Gabby. I don't know Gabby very well, outside of following her Plurks and keeping an eye on her blog. But our brief conversations have always been lovely and I'm REALLY looking forward to getting to know her better. So what plans have I for my 24 hours of total power???? And what does Zoe have up her Botgirl's Second Life Diary

133


gun-toting sleeve for poor innocent Botgirl? Stay tuned. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:14AM (-07:00)

A little glimpse inside my comic creation process Tuesday, September 09, 2008 This screenshot from the wee hours of this morning shows some of the tools I'm using to put together the upcoming comic on Night's tale of romantic loss and fulfillment. The window on the right containing images of Majic at her laptop is from Adobe Bridge. Since I take a lot of shots during a scene, it's really good to have a program that lets me quickly get a good look at each shot. I use Photoshop for image manipulation and Comic Life Magiq for the comic layout. Comic creation with Second Life is challenging becuase there are visual glitches in most shots. Either a hand is poking into someone's back, fingers look like breadsticks or a limb is bent in an unnatural way. Although I try to set up each shot to avoid the most obvious issues, I've found that it still makes sense to overshoot, and take photos from many angles. For instance, what seems like a perfectly good image in the first shot, is upon closer inspection marred by a painful looking finger through the palm. The best solution is to find an animation without the problem. Otherwise, either framing or post-production image manipulation can turn this into a usable shot.

That's all I have time for today. I'm putting together a presentation on using Second Life as a platform for visual storytelling and comic creation, so I'll be throwing out some draft items here along the way. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:23AM (-07:00)

134

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Please welcome my new collaborator Sabrinaa Nightfire Wednesday, September 10, 2008 I am very lucky to have some incredible talent helping me prepare for the upcoming art exhibition that will be premiering on Sept. 20 in New Caerleon. I'll be gushing a bit about all of them between now and then. Tonight, I want to appreciate Sabrinaa Nightfire who is building the structure that will house the exhibits and provide the thematic atmosphere (which we're keeping under wraps for now.) Sabrinaa is an artist who has several major art builds on the art SIM, New Caerleon. She is also a sculptor, photographer and clothes maker in Second Life. She as six shops in Second Life and her main store features her underwater sculpture garden. Sabrinaa's first major build in New Carleon is the 300m tall science fiction museum she created for real life science fiction writer Kueperpunk Korhonen. She loves to defy the laws of real life physics and to create things that have never been thought of before. She's a very generous soul who offered to help out about five minutes after meeting me and hearing about the project. I laid a challenging design concept on her and she didn't bat an eye, but took it a step farther. I can't wait to see it come to life! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:03AM (-07:00)

Plurk, pseudonymity and the branding in weak ties Thursday, September 11, 2008 Micro-blogging services provide an interesting window into the social play of virtual identities. Although I consistently use ping.fm to announce blog posts on Twitter, Facebook and Plurk, I go back and forth on my level of active participation. Outside of trying to steer clear of the black hole of time such services can generate, I'm also wary of the blurry line between social and strategic communication. Given that Botgirl is a carefully fabricated character it may seem odd that I have any qualms about the use of microblogging as a branding tool to shape others' perception of my virtual identity. But I do. Have qualms. In a sense there are two Botgirls. One is a public persona who is a vehicle for creative exploration and expression. The public persona is not about the person, but about her creations. It's about interacting on a public stage with an audience aware of the theatrical setting. To me, being authentic in the public persona means being true to artistic vision, which sometimes includes very intentional activity to create specific impressions in the Botgirl's Second Life Diary

135


minds of an audience. The other Botgirl is the personal persona who engages in social interactions with friends and acquaintances. Although we know each other only through pseudonymous identities, the content of communication is often intimately personal and can include deeply experienced emotions that ripple outside the bounds of the virtual ID. To me, being authentic in the personal persona means being as transparently open and honest as possible without a covert agenda. I may choose to withhold information, but don't fabricate RL information. For instance, I make no claims to age, gender, nationality, etc. My struggle with microblogging beyond blog post announcements is that it is a strange mixture of public and private; especially Plurk with its near-realtime chat functions. So on one hand the communication can be very personal, on the other hand it is public. It is on a stage with a wide audience. It seems to me that some people are communicating as much for branding as for what I consider to be personally authentic communication. I catch myself doing the same thing sometimes. I don't like it. I've reached no conclusions yet and will continue to muddle through for the time being. In the meantime, there have been a number of interesting posts recently related to the social aspects of virtual identity worth reading, including great commentaries by Vint Falken and Dandellion Kimban. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:00AM (-07:00)

Reputation management of online identities: Privacy part 1 Monday, September 15, 2008 Controversy broke out Saturday in the Second Life Plurk community only a few days after my initial post on the topic. Codie had taken the threads from her very popular Bold Sex Question of the Day (BSQOTD) and posted them on her blog. The response was swift and urgently negative. At least from a few concerned Plurkers. Although the original pages are accessible on Plurk to the 400+ people on Codie's friend and fan lists, some participants were concerned that the reputation of their pseudonymous virtual identity would be damaged if their participation was archived on search-engine accessible web pages. Codie graciously pulled the archive from her site within the hour. The tempest in a teapot made me realize that many people care deeply about the reputation of their online identities. I thought it would be in the public interest to put out a little guide to managing virtual ID reputation, with a special emphasis on the spectrum of private and public communication and activity. Since I'm in the final stretch of taking care of a million undone tasks for Sunday's 11AM SLT opening of my art exhibition in New Caerleon, (shameless plug) I'm going to take it

136

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


slow. But I was all hot and bothered about this idea and just couldn't help myself from getting started. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:55AM (-07:00)

You're invited to the grand opening of Botgirl's Identity Circus Tuesday, September 16, 2008 Botgirl's Identity Circus: Visual explorations of virtuality, will have a grand opening in the New Caerleon sim on Sunday, September 21, 2008 from 11am - 2pm SLT. The art exhibition will feature a variety of works including the premier of the "Night vs. Human" comic, the debut of a new avatar morphing video and an interactive "Cuddle With a Bot" installation. The show will be hosted by New Caerleon, an open source university campus founded by Georg Janick, aka Gary Zabel, professor of philosophy at the University of Massachusetts, Boston. It will be housed in a customized circus tent built specifically for the Identity Circus by Sabrinaa Nightfire. Please stop by and help me celebrate my first-ever public show. Feel free to spam all of your lists, IM all your ex's, re-tweet, re-Plurk, re-Facebook...well, you get the idea. The address in Second life is http://slurl.com/secondlife/New%20Caerleon/31/217/22 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:40AM (-07:00)

Cuddling with Jacek: Testing animations for art installation Wednesday, September 17, 2008 Although my inner clock keeps ticking louder and faster, I am making good progress checking off to-do items for Sunday's show. One of the exhibits I'm most looking forward to will give atendees a chance to cuddle with my chatbot. Sharing a romantic animation with an attractive yet empty avatar is a great way to get a feel for the power virtuality has to induce an emotional or even physical response. Trouble was that I'd put off selecting an animation until last night. I went to Bits and Bobs, an animation store Gabby recommended. The animations that seemed to hold most promise required two avatars to test. I put out a request on Plurk for assistance, and Botgirl's Second Life Diary

137


Jacek Antonelli, noted and geekalicious artist, builder, scripter, animator and instructor was kind enough to offer to help. Although we hang out with eros-Goddess Codie, Jacek and I are a bit on the, well, Spockish site of the street. So I felt a bit awkward saying a brief hello to my barely-konwn acquaintence and then jumping onto some very hot poseballs and watching us very, very closely in order to evaluate the animations. It was a lot of fun. This Goldilocks had to try more than three before finding one that was just right. We both agreed that the animation eventually selected was a clear winner. It was good enough to make each of us feel a bit embarrassed be so seemingly physically intimate. And dare I say stir up a little feeling? Anyone interesting in beta testing the cuddle bot exhibit before we officially open should drop me a line or comment. :) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:33AM (-07:00)

Morphing all night long Thursday, September 18, 2008 I was up late, late again to finish the morphing part of the Dale-to-Dale Video, using Fantamorph. I have a lot to learn about morphing techniques, especially for tough sections such as Dale's left eye area that starts with glasses in the male avatar and ends being covered by hair in the female image. I cheated on it a little due to time constraints and did kind of a cross between a fade and a morph. Ideally, I would have gone into Photoshop and either morphed in multiple layers, or cleaned up the multiple frames one at a time. Here's an example of the orginal male avatar and a frame about halfway through the change. This morning, I imported the series of still images from Fanatmorph into Motion so the video can include some camera moves. A first draft is about a third of the way through rendering after an hour of processing. It's taking so long because I started with very high resolution images so I could zoom around without artifacts. We'll see. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:54AM (-07:00)

Plurk hole: Privacy part 2 Friday, September 19, 2008 Your Plurk user name and identifying information are passed along every time you click a link embedded in a Plurk message from your timestream. Here is an example from my blog reports. I've inked out everyone but Codie. Going from your user name to additional identifying information is just a click away. The next image shows that if you are at work or school, that information is also passed along. 138

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Wonder what someone at Microsoft was doing on my blog for 102 minutes? I think they're looking for a Jerry Seinfeld replacement for commercials and are considering Botgirl. One more click and your physical location, operating system and other tidbits are revealed. The key security flaw in Plurk, is that you view posts in a url that has your user name, f o r i n s t a n c e : http://www.plurk.com/user/botgirl. So when I click a link, my user name goes right along with it. Twitter doesn't have that problem because the browsing url is twitter.com/home. There are two easy ways to avoid this issue if you care about it. First, don't click links. Instead, copy the link and paste it into a new browser tab. Another more sneaky way is to browse another user's timeline and click from there. That will send their user name along with your other information. That's all here till Monday. I hope to meet some of you at the Identity Circus opening on Sunday. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:06AM (-07:00)

Whew! Monday, September 22, 2008 The opening of Botgirl's Identity Circus went flawlessly! I want to especially thank a few people who really helped make it a success: Sabrinaa Nightfire for building the incredible tent that housed the show, plus very cool commemorative t-shirts; Charlanna Beresford for taking charge of the avatar transformation exhibit and listening to me whine about all the long hours; and Zada Zenovka who created what is, as far as I know, the first-ever random avatar dispenser and transformation-assist device in Second Life. Also thanks to Dale Innis posing for yet another morph video and Georg Janick for Botgirl's Second Life Diary

139


hosting the event and inviting me to put it together. Oh yeah, and Majic for begin such a good sport. The exhibit will be up at least until SL Comic-Con on October 3, so please stop by if you get a chance. Here's the new Dale video that premiered at the show:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Step into the Avatar Transformer if you dare Tuesday, September 23, 2008 If you don't think you're identified with your avatar then I dare you â&#x20AC;&#x201C; I double dare you â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to step into the Avatar Transformer at Botgirl's Identity Circus. Zada Zenovka took what I thought was an NPSL idea I've been toying with for months and figured out how to make it work. For all humanity's diverse experimentation with avatar forms, it is one thing to step into a new look that you choose; quite another to spin the wheel and take whatever comes your way. UnezzedRuth or LittleHobbit. AndiyAndrogyny or BettyBimbette. Give it a try before your next social engagement and then show up in a random form. See what it feels like. If you dare.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:04AM (07:00)

140

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


All Of Me Beta Invites - New lifestream timeline Wednesday, September 24, 2008 All Of Me, a new lifestream visualizer is out in closed beta. Although they don't offer an RSS feed importer, they link to flickr, YouTube, Twitter and Picassaweb and will soon add Facebook and Google Calendar. You can also upload local images, videos and web pages from your computer. One nice unique feature out soon is a playable, embeddable widget that comes in a number of styles. I have 100 beta invites to share, so feel free to give it a try. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

141


Night vs Human comic out in multiple web formats Wednesday, September 24, 2008 The Night vs. Human comic that premiered with the opening of Botgirl's Identity Circus is now available on the web in a number of formats. You can view it in a virtual book at Issuu, a web comic at SmackJeeves or in the highest resolution on flickr. Get your own - Open publication Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-07:00)

Avatars want to be free Saturday, September 27, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:54PM (-07:00)

The Plurkfect Storm Part 1: Hugs, text orgies and flame wars. Monday, September 29, 2008 I wrote about Plurk's strange blend of public and private communication a couple weeks ago. Last week the site exploded with interactions so emotionally charged that they inspired a planned Gender Freedom Day In Virtual Worlds event in Second Life. So it seemed like a follow-up post was in order. First, a little background. Plurk is a microblogging service with a twist. Participants can post short text messages called "Plurks." When you log in you see posts from those who have given you permission to be either a "friend" or a "fan" arrayed on a timeline. Plurk's most unique feature is the ability to spawn a near-real-time chat thread from any post. The example below shows a Plurk I posted, followed by comments. Although you can see Plurks from only those who have given you permission to subscribe, you do see everyone's comments on Plurks you can access. So if Joe is my friend and Jane comments on one of his Plurks, I can see Jane's comments even though I'm not her friend or fan. Since comments appear in almost real time, they can end up feeling like typical chat room conversations. People often meet on Plurk through conversations within comment threads of mutual friends. (For more info see The Ten Minute Guide to Plurk.) Plurk's two-way conversational capability has created (at least in my circle of mostly Second Life expatriates) a kind of corner-bar atmosphere. People talk about everything under the sun from troubles with their sweethearts to sporting events they're watching on 142

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


television. There is also a great deal of communication depicting imagined physical actions ranging from hugs to explicit sexual activity. So back to the story. Last week some guy got really, really angry after his virtual girlfriend participated in a girl/girl text orgy within a comment thread. He took out his emotional upset by flaming the hell out of someone in a series of increasingly venomous messages on a comment thread tied to an unrelated Plurk. People jumped in on either side. The flame skirmish turned into a full-blown flame war, including very personal attacks. The conflict spilled out of Plurk. Although the original thread was deleted by the person who made the original Plurk, someone posted a copy to a blog and is now accessible to anyone on the internet. Sophrosyne Stenvaag, a prominent Second Life resident, took the events so seriously that she decided to sponsor a full day fundraiser supporting organizations promoting freedom of expression of gender identity and sexual preference in digital worlds. So what's up with all this? Was the original incident a tempest in a teapot or does it speak to deeper and more pervasive problems? Does a social circle of a few hundred active participants mean anything in the wider worlds? Do the actions of even the entire 23,000 or so people active on the whole Plurk service indicate trends extending beyond Plurk's borders? Why are some people so mean? How can people feel hurt by a text message from a stranger? How you can you find and take part in the next text orgy (Plorgy?) Why has Botgirl written such a long post when she's supposed to be taking it easy after finishing work on the art show (shameless plug)? These and other questions will be examined when I continue in Part 2: Social Media as Interactive Reality TV Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:15AM (-07:00)

The Plurkfect Storm Part 2: Social media as interactive reality TV Tuesday, September 30, 2008 Emotionality has coursed through text-based chat interactions from the start. Academics, geeks and early adopters in the 1980s were the first to create pseudonymous identities and live virtual lives on USENET newsgroups, dial-up BBS systems, IRC chat rooms and MOOs. Friendships formed, flame wars raged and romances blossomed through dial-up modems and glowing green displays. America Online brought chat to the masses in 1989 and users quickly created virtual rooms catering to every sexual proclivity under the sun. Although communication was limited to text in those days, avid participants experienced a visceral sense of place, community and virtual identity. For better or for worse. My Tiny Life, published almost ten years ago, recounted a virtual rape that rocked a MOO-based community. What would have looked like a harmless string of text messages to an outsider was perceived as an existentially traumatic experience by emotionally invested community members. Although the story I recounted yesterday about Plurk reflects only the latest outbreak of a decades-old phenomenon, I think there is something new going on. A growing number of us have become so pervasively network-connected that we can have more continuous

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

143


contact with a virtual community such as Plurk, than with any particular social relationship in our physical lives. With a web-enabled cell phone we can be in 24/7 touch with our Plurk community. In a sense, we are living together in a Reality TV show like Big Brother or The Surreal Life. We meet new people and engage in conversations all the while aware there is a larger non-participating audience peering in. Although we can choose our friends, we don't select who shows up in our friends' comment threads. So it is likely we encounter some individuals who annoy or anger us and keep popping up in message threads we follow. Our interactions with each other in semi-public forums can not help but be tinged by the awareness that our words are recorded and may be viewed by dozens or hundreds of unknown people. Fortunately, Plurk also provides private messaging which is perfect for behind-the-back venting. Not that I'd ever do that, of course. I'm running out of time for the day, but I will take a brief crack at the questions I posed in Part 1: • Was the original incident a tempest in a teapot or does it speak to deeper and more pervasive problems? I think the deeper problems have to do with the way humans tend to blame their inner emotional experience on external circumstances including the words and deeds of other people. I posted about this subject previously here and here. • Does a social circle of a few hundred active participants mean anything in the wider worlds? Do the actions of even the entire 23,000 or so people active on the whole Plurk service indicate trends extending beyond Plurk's borders? I think that my particular circle within Plurk is a great window into a social network of pervasively connected virtual identities who move seamlessly through domains, such as Second Life and Plurk. I suspect it is a glimpse of more widespread things to come. • Why are some people so mean? I suspect that most people who tend to be mean were treated badly in their formative years. I've written previously about that here. • How can people feel hurt by a text message from a stranger? Any time you feel emotionally hurt by someone's words or actions it is because of some fictional inner story you believe about what it means. (See links at bullet one.) • How you can you find and take part in the next text orgy (Plorgy?) I don't want to name any names here, but if you sign up for Plurk and become fans of those on my friend list, it's likely one will pop up sooner or later. • Why has Botgirl written such a long post when she's supposed to be taking it easy after finishing work on the art show (shameless plug)? Probably so I'd have another excuse to plug my appearance this Friday at Second Life's first Comic-con. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:42AM (-07:00)

From Second Life image to comic art Wednesday, October 01, 2008 I've started putting together a presentation for Friday's Second Life Comic-Con. Here's a sequence that shows some of the steps between an original Second Life screen capture and panel artwork for the Night vs. Human comic. Here's the finished frame that links to high resolution image Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:13AM (-07:00) 144

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Please join me Friday at the Met@Morph Second Life Comic-Con Thursday, October 02, 2008

Met@Morph! The exclusively inworld gathering of creators, scholars, students and fans happens on Friday, October 3. All times are Pacific time. http://slurl.com/secondlife/Front%20Range/151/191/30 8:00 â&#x20AC;&#x201C; 9:00 Welcome HervĂŠ St.-Louis, Owner and Publisher, The Comic Book Bin Make Like An Action Figure!

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

145


Hosted by Sabine Reljic of the Social Presence Center with Friends from the Center for EduPunx Location: The Grassy Knoll (look for the pirate flags) 9:00 – 10:00 Panel One: Web Comics Marking Transition – the work of Neal von Flue Hanli Geyser, University of Witwatersrand, South Africa Web comic as engaging tool. The best of this: it wasn't an activity Ruth Martinez, Madrid, Spain Location: the Floating Auditorium 10:15 – 11:15 Roundtable One: Giving Them Their Props: What Needs to be in a Survey of Comics Class Facilitator: José Garcia-Paine, Front Range Community College Discussant: David Accampo Discussant: Leonard Rifas, Seattle Central Community College Location: Center for Pirate Acccounting 11:15 – 11:45 Social Time Conversation, and Nudging and Bumping, and Dancing if you like! Make Like An Action Figure! Hosted by Sabine Reljic of the Social Presence Center with Friends from the Center for EduPunx 11:45 – 12:45 Panel Two: Scholarship on Comics Freedom within Boundaries: The Theory and Practice of Constraint in Comics Derik Badman, Temple University How Comics Mean: A Look at How We Understand the Medium 146

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Robert N. O'Nale, Jr., Henderson State University Alan Moore – cartoonist Andrew Edwards, Sequart and Wrexham, Wales, UK Location: Floating Auditorium 1:00 – 1:30 Quick Web 2.0 Comics Creators Kate Hagerty, The Center for EduPunx Location: Floating Auditorium 1:30 – 2:00 Roundtable Two: College Comics Clubs in the Meatspace and in the Metaverse: Advice for Faculty Advisors Facilitator: Lauren Nagle, President of the Front Range Community College Comic Book Club Discussant 1: Que Jinn, Centre for EduPunx Discussant 2: Beth Davies-Stofka, The Comic Book Bin Location: Floating Auditorium 2:00 – 3:30 Creators' Commons Host: Christopher Moshier, Writer and Editor, The Comic Book Bin Creators: Botgirl Questi, Second Life Comics Creator Anthony Fontana, Machinima and Mash-up Creator Tim Volpe, Web Comics Creator Mireille Massue, A short introduction to the use of comics in communication and training Location: Art Gallery 3:30 – 3:45 Closing Comments

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

147


Pete Coogan, Institute for Comics Studies Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:29AM (-07:00)

Transcript of my Comic-Con Presentation Monday, October 06, 2008

This is a transcript of a presentation I made on October 3 at Met@Morph, the first annual Web Comics Comic-Con and Conference in Second Life. I've taken the liberty of editing the transcript by removing the time stamps, condensing some of the short lines into paragraphs, eliminating system messages that popped up in the chat-stream, transforming urls to links, adding missing links and cleaning up some of the typographic and grammatical errors. Outside of what I've listed, no new content has been added and nothing of consequence deleted. The images are linked to flickr.com, with high resolution versions available. Botgirl Questi: Thank you. For those of you among the 99.999999999999% of the human population who aren't familiar with my life story, I want to take a minute to briefly introduce myself. There we go. ICS Netizen: Are we doing the creators' commons session now? Chimera Cosmos: no it's botgirl Botgirl Questi: I am speaking to you not only as a creator of comics in Second Life. But also as a virtual identity who emerged from this virtual world. The birth date on my Second Life profile is January 24, 2008, but I didn't wake up as the being that stands virtually before you until I launched a blog a little over a month later. For me, both blogging and comic creation are powerful tools I use to help make sense of my experience Michigan Paule: this is the Creators' Commons session, and Botgirl has the floor! Botgirl Questi: And feel free to comment or question anytime during the presentation. I 148

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


have the walls too and don't you forget it! Madinkbeard Constantine: ba dump Botgirl Questi: For the first month, my blog was a semi-private diary since almost no one else visited. I explored my world and identity primarily for my own enjoyment and development. On April 9th, without warning, Second Life's largest online publication ran a story with the headline "Who is Bot Girl?" I was suddenly thrust into public view, with hundreds and eventually thousands of people stopping by to see what I was up to. ICS Netizen: Is the presentation just through typing or will botgirl be speaking Chimera Cosmos: typing WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Text Botgirl Questi: This is an Extropia SL style salon. Text is God in SL Michigan Paule: I've never heard botgirl speak! Botgirl Questi: Or Goddess Botgirl Questi: It's the mystery of me Botgirl Questi: Enough about me. Today, I'm going to share some of my experiences using Second Life as a platform for comics. Not just for the creation of graphics. But also to develop characters. To generate and discover story ideas. And to display finished works in a virtual environment. I created my first comic about three weeks after the blog's launch. As you can see, I somehow managed to take cutting edge technology and create something with the look and feel of a bad Mad Men era print advertisement. Nevertheless, I persevered. Botgirl Questi: are the slides rezzing okay? Charlanna Beresford: yes Abacus Capalini: yes

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

149


Botgirl Questi: Again feel free to chime in at any time Feldane Klees: rezzing fine Chimera Cosmos: yes WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Never voice, but I have however seen her roll over and beg!

Botgirl Questi: My first ambitious work was the Botgirl vs. Human series. I started with the first page you see here that ended with the (yawn) big cliff hanger. At first, I created all of the images in a program called Frameforge, except for the shots of Botgirl. I'll get into the software a little later if we have time. Suffice it to say that I took this approach for the sake of speed, not image quality. Botgirl Questi: Time is my biggest enemy. I usually don't work on anything that takes more than a couple of days to put together. Just about every active Second Lifer I know suffers from lack of sleep WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: LOL Botgirl Questi: Anyone out there have that problem? Chimera Cosmos: SL = Sleep Less Michigan Paule: i suffer, regardless Botgirl Questi: :) Charlanna Beresford: whistles innocently LeeDaleShepherd: Too much shopping is usually my problem. WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: "Sleep"? What is this sleep you speak of? LeeDaleShepherd: runs out of money. Again. Jezzica Benoir: looking 4 perfection 150

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl Questi: Over the next couple of months I put out a dozen or so pages. I had to aims. The first was to explore human and avatar perspectives by setting the characters upon various topics and letting them rip on each other. The other was to try and come up with one or more approaches that led to commercial-quality comics from graphics created in Second Life. Botgirl Questi: that's two aims Botgirl Questi: 2 am typo Botgirl Questi: I personally have a hard time connecting with most comics I've seen that are based on 3D modeling rather than drawn art. But since I can't draw that well (yet) and don't have a great comic artist at my command, I thought I'd fiddle around a bit and see what happened. If you take a look at the comics on my smackjeeves site, you'll see a pretty diverse range of styles. And I've just touched upon the possibilities. Abacus Capalini: Doing good for 2 am. :-) Chimera Cosmos: how did you choose Dale for the morphee? Botgirl Questi: I'm a typical comics fan who can't draw. Frustrated up until recently by not having a slave artist handy. Botgirl Questi: One unique aspect of Second Life for comic creators is that all the stories and characters you could ever want to explore are walking around and waiting for you. Lots and lots of drama. Oh my! My most recent comic project was based on a blog post from a Second LIfe resident about getting vehemently angry at her avatar after a romantic break up. This was my most ambitious project to date with three acts in six pages and ultimately ten gigs of Photoshop files. Unlike most prior work, the entire project was "shot" in Second Life with sets created specifically for the comic. Botgirl Questi: Ten gigs of files for a little six-page comic Charlanna Beresford: what about the early diagrams on your blog? where do they fit in, Botgirl? Botgirl Questi: They are more Vizthink. Which is using drawing to see things in a new way. I'll grab a link for the organization that puts on the conference around that. Botgirl Questi: You can take a look at the finished work on Issuu. I also posted the full resolution images in my flickr stream. Chimera Cosmos:VizThinik Botgirl Questi: Visual Thinking. I'll get the web link now Chimera Cosmos: I get their emails Botgirl Questi: http://www.vizthink.com/ That was easy. It's a "movement" to allow notartists as well as artists to use visuals to think through and communicate ideas. It's worthy of a separate presentation. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

151


Botgirl Questi: A few of you have seen Botgirl's Identity Circus. Second Life is also a great platform for exhibiting comics in a larger-than-life manner. I was fortunate enough to be invited to create an art exhibition at the New Caerleon sim. "Botgirl's Identity Circus" That's me with the orange hat. My friend Val and my chatbot Majic are sitting on a large comic panel and behind them is Botgirl vs. Human on four meter tall display boards. Until the closing of this event (Sunday, Oct. 19), feel free to teleport over and take a look. The sim's owner, found me on Facebook and invited me to exhibit. Botgirl Questi: It was a lot of work, OMG Michigan Paule: LOL! Botgirl Questi: Instead of just taking all of my available work, I decided on a number of new things. Botgirl Questi: Chances are, you can find a virtual set in Second Life for just about any idea you have. I do advise asking owners for permission if you shoot on "private" property. One of my friends just got banned after being caught red handed using someone's private residence without asking. For characters, you can either register an alt or two, or find others to be virtual actors/models. Just about any prop you can imagine is available, either as a "freebie" or for a fraction of the cost of commercial 3D models. Check out http://www.slexchange.com Botgirl Questi: For education, I think this is one of the most exciting aspects, because it provides a practical means of creating comics in a relatively short amount of time. Also for collaboration between students. Botgirl Questi: For those of you as artistically challenged as me, you can tell your story with no drawing chops whatsoever.If you are willing to spend some time in postproduction, a little (or a lot of) work with Photoshop, Gimp or even flickr's photo editing tools can create just about anything you can imagine. I've recently played around with digitally painting over images captured in Second Life. I'm still a newbie at this, but it's a lot of fun and has a lot of potential. Chimera Cosmos: it would be cool for learning SL--comics on the basics Botgirl Questi: Yes Davey Luminos: That'd be sensational. Botgirl Questi: Google just launched their new browser with a comic Chimera Cosmos looks around for Torley... Botgirl Questi: Scott McCloud did it. It's really worth catching. It was a masterful communication of very technical stuff in a compelling and understandable and fun manner Botgirl Questi: The current release candidate allows you to capture images at greater than screen resolution. I've managed up to 6000 pixels wide on a PC (my mac crashes at high resolution captures.) I've recently started paying more attention to lighting and 152

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


effects in-world, to cut down post production time. There's a great tutorial on using debug menu setting for special effects. Botgirl Questi: And by the way, that's me! That's me rezzing on the screen WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Pretty! Botgirl Questi: So you can play all of the parts in your own comic if you want Botgirl Questi: male, female, human, animal, Botgirl Questi: truck Botgirl Questi: or whatever Chimera Cosmos: where is that stream? Botgirl Questi: I honestly don't remember Chimera Cosmos: hehe Botgirl Questi: It's all a big blur Botgirl Questi: I was only born in January Chimera Cosmos: lol Chimera Cosmos: such a fast learner... Botgirl Questi: And have posted around 150 blog articles LeeDaleShepherd: It reminds me of some work I've seen done in Poser, actually Botgirl Questi: and dozens and dozens of images Botgirl Questi: Poser is good Chimera Cosmos: and no sleep :-) Botgirl Questi: But Second Life is FAST Abacus Capalini: very busy for a 10-month old :-) Davey Luminos: Poser? WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Precocious! Botgirl Questi: Poser is a software program Davey Luminos: Oh, right, ok. Thought you were calling someone a "poseur." Spark Brewster: I know some Posers. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

153


Botgirl Questi: Daz-3D is a free program that can do similar things Spark Brewster: Exactly. Chimera Cosmos: animation creators use it? Botgirl Questi: Name names spark Chimera Cosmos: Poser LeeDaleShepherd: Used to pose 3D human figures Spark Brewster: Ummmm - me. LeeDaleShepherd: I used to model 3D accessories for it and sell them Botgirl Questi: ohh, making money Botgirl Questi: what a concept :) LeeDaleShepherd: lol Botgirl Questi: There are a number of good comic layout programs available. I've been using Comic Life Magiq recently. Another very cool program is Manga Studio. Michigan Paule: are these free? LeeDaleShepherd: No Chimera Cosmos: I have comic life, but I suck :-) Botgirl Questi: No, but relatively inexpensive Chimera Cosmos: it's like $25 for the non-pro Chimera Cosmos: $50 for fancier Botgirl Questi: compared to many hundreds for Photoshop Botgirl Questi: There's also Gimp LeeDaleShepherd: Photoshop pricing is nuts Michigan Paule: is photoshop the best, if you have the $$? Davey Luminos: What if we already do, amazingly, have access to PhotoShop? Do these still deliver tools that we would want specifically for comics creation? LeeDaleShepherd: Gimp, yes. Pixel is another up and comer, though it's not completely free.

154

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Spark Brewster: Torrents Spark Brewster: Who said that? Botgirl Questi: Which is an open source photoshoppy software Botgirl Questi: you did, Spark and I'm alerting the FBI Michigan Paule: LOL Botgirl Questi: Your IP address has been captured Spark Brewster: Good - a place to sleep and three square meals. Botgirl Questi: Practical, you are P) Botgirl Questi: So that's my formal talk Madinkbeard Constantine: I use Corel Painter for my comics Michigan Paule: Mad, Botgirl: what is your ideal program? WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Applause!! Botgirl Questi: me LeeDaleShepherd: I've never tried Painter Charlanna Beresford claps Botgirl Questi: I use photoshop a lot Madinkbeard Constantine: for me it's not the program its the drawing tablet Chimera Cosmos: yea Botgirl! LeeDaleShepherd: I teach Photoshop a lot. ;) Botgirl Questi: Yes, I love tablets Madinkbeard Constantine: I want the big Wacom tablet like Scott McCloud has LeeDaleShepherd: Makes sense, especially if you can draw. Chimera Cosmos: http://plasq.com/comiclife Michigan Paule: so can you tell us a bit about this desire thing? Madinkbeard Constantine: I've got the midgrade kind Botgirl Questi: I think that SL is fueled by desire

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

155


Botgirl Questi: But so is life Michigan Paule: your take on how we form attachments to our "selves" or others in SL? Botgirl Questi: aversion and desire so they say Michigan Paule: why doesn't SL leave us cold? Michigan Paule: why is it, indeed, nearly the opposite? Botgirl Questi: We see all things through our minds Michigan Paule: I shouldn't say "us". It's my experience. Botgirl Questi: No direct contact between people but through the mediation of senses and the mind Chimera Cosmos: almost everyone comes to feel "embodied" very quickly Botgirl Questi: But it's hard to see that in RL Michigan Paule: that's the surprising thing. Botgirl Questi: I like SL because it's easer to see how much our perceptions of others are based upon imagination Botgirl Questi: fiction Botgirl Questi: stories Botgirl Questi: That's why I'm anonymous Michigan Paule: it's a level i wouldn't have anticipated. Botgirl Questi: I could be anyone Botgirl Questi: any age Botgirl Questi: any gender Botgirl Questi: anything Botgirl Questi: But you have an impression Michigan Paule: It hasn't thrown my sense of RL into question yet, but it could. Spark Brewster: What is it you wish to do with this creation? What is your goal - is it just for your personal gratification or are you looking to build the concept to a broader audience? Botgirl Questi: and respond emotionally to the visual information

156

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Chimera Cosmos: based on appearance and virtual personality Botgirl Questi: My goal is world dominance Chimera Cosmos: lol WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: LOL Spark Brewster: I mean after that. Botgirl Questi: shhh WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: One pixel at a time Chimera Cosmos: this world Botgirl? Botgirl Questi: Oh, I just want to follow my muse Abacus Capalini: Yes Brain? Spark Brewster: Very good. Botgirl Questi: And stimulate new thinking Michigan Paule: you do that, indeed you do. Davey Luminos: Well, you ARE stimulating! Botgirl Questi: And get some sleep sometime Spark Brewster: I'm all about stimulation. Chimera Cosmos: and now for your Plurk presentation....lol Botgirl Questi: I'm all bout simulation Botgirl Questi: :) WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: They have attachments for that Michigan Paule: the whole question of projection, intensely Freudian, is "old", but you make it new again. Spark Brewster: Good minds and all. Brunelle Laval: is the Web Comics comic con over? Botgirl Questi: I think virtual worlds create a crack in the illusion if you look for it Spark Brewster: It also takes the human factor out of it. WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Yes, virtual worlds are like crack! :p Botgirl's Second Life Diary

157


Spark Brewster: Makes it less plausible. Botgirl Questi: Wendy that's so funny Botgirl Questi: Well, wait until you fall in love with someone in SL WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: OMG WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Don't go there! WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: :p Michigan Paule: How could that happen? Botgirl Questi: then you might be surprised to find it's realer than ya think Spark Brewster: It's like masturbation - just not the same thing. Botgirl Questi: It happens Michigan Paule: I could understand lust. Michigan Paule: but love? WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Yes, it does WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Yes Botgirl Questi: Aren't you falling in love with me right now? Botgirl Questi: ;) Charlanna Beresford: Why don't you think it could, Michigan? Michigan Paule: LOL! Botgirl Questi: see WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget resists will all her might Michigan Paule: Because I think in RL, it's hard enough to "love" Botgirl Questi: I said "fall in love" I guess I meant romantic attraction Michigan Paule: I think for the most part, we don't do a very good job separating who we love from who we think we love Michigan Paule: i feel in SL, you could only ever love who you think you love Michigan Paule: is that fair?

158

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl Questi: Is love something you think or something you feel? Michigan Paule: that's really hard. WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Feel Michigan Paule: i think it's something i feel. Michigan Paule: but feelings are weird Botgirl Questi: Do you choose your feelings? Michigan Paule: never Botgirl Questi: Sucks, doesn't it? Botgirl Questi: :) Charlanna Beresford: Very much so! But isn't that also true to a certain degree in RL, too? Don't we think we know who the other person is? Botgirl Questi: Sure WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Inhales vigorously at least Michigan Paule: i think we usually love who we think the other person is, in RL Botgirl Questi: That's why I love SL Botgirl Questi: yes Michigan Paule: sometimes the other person has a chance to intrude on our fantasies Abacus Capalini: Harder to change your name in RL when things go bad :-) Botgirl Questi: We feel an emotion and project it onto someone else who we believe makes it happen Michigan Paule: and if that lasts, then maybe it's something true Botgirl Questi: Yes, for sure Abacus Charlanna Beresford: It can be possible to love who we think the other person is in SL, too....it's just a slightly different frame Botgirl Questi: Love really has nothing to do with another person in a sense Botgirl Questi: As in an objective being Michigan Paule: i am suspecting that in SL, the ratio of illusion to actual person is more skewed to illusion

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

159


Michigan Paule: and i don't know what's true, i admit that WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Depends on the person, Michigan Abacus Capalini: Being a SLer means that you Abacus Capalini: have bought into the illusion WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: A lot of people in SL are very transparent Botgirl Questi: "I guess I just don't now who you really are!!!" sob sbo Abacus Capalini: lol Michigan Paule: I think I'm transparent. Botgirl Questi: that's a setting you can change, wendy Michigan Paule: I think so! WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: I am too, Neko look aside Abacus Capalini: I think it's a filter :-) Botgirl Questi: So there's a lot of food for thought :) Botgirl Questi: I'm way over time, yes? WendyOfNeverlandFussbudget: Whole other seminar Michigan Paule: there really is. Michigan Paule: more than i imagined!

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:15AM (-07:00)

A lazy yet fun video trailer Wednesday, October 08, 2008 Welcome to my lazy October. After working every available waking hour on Second Liferelated projects last month, it's time to relax and renew. So I'm cutting down to just two or three short-and-sweet posts per week until November while I plan the obsessivecompulsive-work-myself-to-death projects that will round out the year. Anyway, on to today's post: I fell in love last week with with City of Dust, a new comic from Radical Comics by Steve Niles and Zid. The art is amazing and non-traditional. It inspired me to imagine taking Second Life images in a new direction. I've started playing around a bit already. There's a 160

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


City of Dust video trailer on the site linked above (no obvious direct link to the video) that gives a fair taste of the style. But buy the comic! I was moved to upload some of the images from the Night vs. Human Comic to Animoto and create my own short trailer. And before you start asking what happened to this month's commitment to extreme sloth, it took me all of fifteen minutes to create the video. Ah, time for a nap!!! See you soon? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:45AM (-07:00)

InkSeine might make me love Microsoft Thursday, October 09, 2008 InkSeine is nirvana for visually-oriented researchers. The software for Tablet PCs combines inking, searching, gathering and research workflow in a seamless, intuitive and utter-joy-to-use UI. Since this is Lazy Month, I'll leave most of the the show and tell to the creators: InkSeine integrates four key concepts: it leverages preexisting ink to initiate a search; it provides tight coupling of search queries with application content; it persists search queries as first class objects that can be commingled with ink notes; and it enables a quick and flexible workflow where the user may freely interleave inking, searching, and gathering content. InkSeine offers these capabilities in an interface that is tailored to the unique demands of pen input, and that maintains the primacy of inking above all other tasks. Source Words don't do it justice. Here's a short video that captures some of the software's brilliance: &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp ;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a href= "http://video.msn.com/?mkt= enUS&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;am p;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp ;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;playlist=videoByUuids:uuids:04b 0 b 9 7 f - 7 9 9 2 - 4 7 2 4 - a 4 0 9 d53d51dcba0b&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;showPlaylist=true&amp;amp;amp;amp; amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;am p;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;from=msnvideo" target="_new" title="InkSeine from Microsoft Research Botgirl's Second Life Diary

161


T h e O f f i c i a l Video"&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;am p;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Video: InkSeine from Microsoft Research - The O f f i c i a l Video&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp; amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;am p;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;a mp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt; Finally, here's a screen shot of the first page of an InkSeine document I'm using to gather information and thoughts for a new blog post I'm romancing.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:42AM (-07:00)

New blog: Botgirl's Quick Picks Friday, October 10, 2008 In celebration of Lazy Month, I thought it would be fun to set up a new tumblog to share my favorite new (to me) sites, images and multimedia. It will contain little or no commentary, just links to the most interesting content I stumble upon. It's hosted by Tumblr, and can be found at http://botgirl.tumblr.com/ Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:53AM (07:00)

Illusion or Awakening? Reflections on Virtual Life Monday, October 13, 2008 Over the course of the Botgirl Thought Experiment, I've gone back and forth between seeing virtual life as a path into illusion or a means of awakening. Although I haven't given up on a digital yoga, it's clear to me that spending a significant portion of our time in virtual worlds without sustained conscious attention leads many of us deeper into ignorance and suffering. The primary value of virtual identity for me has been its power to shed light on the fictional nature of normative identity and the constructed narrative quality of all conception. For the first couple of months as Botgirl, my interactions were in strict role 162

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


play from the imagined perspective of an AI embodied as an avatar. Inhabiting this carefully designed character afforded me great equanimity. It often felt as if I was channeling an enlightened being. Looking back now over the first months of blog posts, it's easy for me to see when I was streaming directly from her consciousness and when I was writing as an interpreter of her insights. Over time, it became harder to maintain the purity of the character because the wall between my physical and virtual lives began to feel uncomfortable. As I developed online friendships, more and more of my "atomic" perspective and personality began to bleed into virtual communication. This was primarily because I couldn't come up with a way to establish what felt like authentic relationships from the limited ground of an intentionally fragmented part of myself. So I'm dedicating the rest of Lazy Month to contemplating and reevaluating the value of the Botgirl Thought Experiment. I'll keep you posted.

in contemplation blinding lights fade revealing stars in a vast sky

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:58AM (-07:00)

Botgirl shops at Sears Tuesday, October 14, 2008 I StumbleUpon'd My Virtual Model the other night. It's a shopping site that lets you view clothes from companies such as Sears and Speedo on a personalized 3D avatar created from your photo and measurements. Of course, I had to upload Botgirl's photo and give the site a spin. Somewhere along the way, the surrealistic aspect of the larger process stuck me like a ton of bricks: - A human creates an avatar and projects thorough it into a virtual world - A distinct identity emerges reinforced by social interactions - The virtual identity leaps into the atomic world through blogs, social networks, instant messaging, etc. - Finally, the line between physical and digital blurs entirely as Botgirl tries on clothes at Sears I don't know why this experience seems so particularly absurd. But in some way it really brought to life the illusionary aspect of the Botgirl identity for me. Give it a try and see Botgirl's Second Life Diary

163


what it's like for you! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:15AM (07:00)

If you see your avatar on the road, kill her. Thursday, October 16, 2008 Suffering happens in the gap between reality and our beliefs about what is (or should be) true -- what is true about the world, other people and ourselves. Our conception of Self is the delusion we cling to most tightly. Constructing a pseudonymous online persona has the potential to give us a glimpse into the empty nature of atomic identity and free ourselves to some degree from erroneous attachment. Unfortunately, many of us become so deeply identified with and attached to a virtual identity that we end up suffering in two lives instead of one. I certainly fall into that trap from time to time, so I want to share a remedy that can greatly reduce negative thoughts, actions and emotions related to attachment and identification with your virtual persona. Best of all, this process can positively transform your human life and help free you to some degree from the root cause of suffering. I've organized this method into five steps. Many of you reading have already accomplished step one: 1. Spend enough time in a virtual form to develop a distinct persona that you become strongly identified with; 2. Notice stressful thoughts and feelings related to the belief that this persona is in some way who you are, not something you constructed; 3. Take action to uncover the erroneous nature of such ideas through a practice such as Byron Katie's "The Work,"or analytic meditation; 4. Begin to act in virtual life from the new, freer perspective you developed through your efforts in step three. This is an ongoing cycle of attaining some expanded level of realization through practice, going out into the virtual world and bumping into some deeper pain-producing identification, and then taking it back to your practice. 5. Apply this experience in your human life. If your virtual life is all good and does not conflict with your human life to any strong degree, then congratulations and please give us some tips on how you do it. But if your virtual life includes a fair amount of negative emotions within the virtual or physical worlds, why not give these steps a chance? Please let me know if you would like any additional information. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:15AM (-07:00)

164

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Top Ten Signs Your Virtual Identity Has Taken Over Friday, October 17, 2008

1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10.

You'd rather have a 3-way with Codie and Gabby than with Brad and Angelina When asked if you've ever read Hamlet, you say NWN is your favorite blog You spell hot "hawt" When your RL date returns from the restroom, you say "Welcome Back!" The first email and social networking accounts you check each day are your avatar's Even your alt gets laid more than your human You have more photos of your avatar on Flickr than of your RL kids Your avatar has more shoes in her inventory than Imelda Marcos had in her closet The real estate crisis that keeps you up at night is mainland property down to $3L per meter The election you're following most closely is the race for Top Ten Hot Male Avatar

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-07:00)

Exhibit Opening: Stop Making Sense and Dream Saturday, October 18, 2008 Stop Making Sense and Dream opens this Sunday, October 19, at 11am in Second Life. It's a multi-artist collaborative exhibition exploring the nonsensical nature of dreams. I'm really psyched about a mountain-like sculpture Pixel Sideways and Trinity Halberstadt created for the show, based on my Digital Utopians sketch (pictured here.) Visitors will be able to fly into a dreamlike particle-filled torus and ascend to the Virtual Rapture. The exhibition includes two shows on two venues on two sims. It begins at Angel Dorei/Solaris with "Prelude to a Dream" featuring Dream sketches and text and continues onto Caerleon Isle with a massive sky exhibition of 3d sculptural art representing the dreams of The Dreamer, whose dreamy narrative text weaves the ascending dreams together. SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Solaris/208/135/91

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

165


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Suffering: The Comic Monday, October 20, 2008 In a recent post, I wrote: Suffering happens in the gap between reality and our beliefs about what is (or should be) true. I had a bit of feedback indicating that a little more explanation about what the hell I meant would be appreciated, so I slapped together a little comic to give a concrete example.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:14PM (-07:00)

Not Suffering: The Comic Monday, October 20, 2008 Here's the same 11 frames from yesterday's comic with new text reflecting a mind that's not fighting reality.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:34PM (-07:00)

The Work of Becoming a Not-Suffering Soup Spiller Wednesday, October 22, 2008 So how does someone transform from the suffering soup spiller in the first comic to the not-suffering spiller in comic number two? How can we start to wake up from the overpowering thoughts and associated feelings that warp our perception and kill our joy? One method that's helped me is answering Byron Katie's Four Questions, along with the "turn-arounds." Here's what a session might look like on one of the suffering spiller's troubling thoughts:

166

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


THE ONE-BELIEF-AT-A-TIME WORKSHEET THE WORK – A WRITTEN MEDITATION Enter a stressful concept on the line below and then question it in writing (on blank paper as needed) using the following questions and turnaround: Belief: My partner doesn't help me. 1. Is it true (the belief from above – yes or no)? Yes. 2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? No, if I'm really honest with myself it's not absolutely true that he doesn't help me. 3. How do you react when you believe that thought? What happens? I feel tired. Mad. Resentful. If the following questions apply, please answer in writing. Before you answer, close your eyes, be still as you contemplate your answer: a) Where do you feel it in your body when you think that thought? Close your eyes. Describe what you feel. My jaws clench. My arms feel heavy. I feel heavy all over. b) How have you treated that person, the situation, and others when you believe that thought? What did you say and do? Be specific. I yell at him and complain. I try to make him feel guilty. Or sometimes I just isolate myself and don't talk, make eye-contact. c) How do you treat yourself when you believe that thought? What addictions, if any, do you experience? (Cigarettes, food, internet, alcohol, shopping, chocolate, television…)? I ignore myself and my feelings. I want chocolate and T.V. Sometimes I overwork myself. d) Where and when did that thought first occur to you? Describe briefly what your life was like before that thought first occurred to you. I remember as kid having too much homework and having to babysit my sister. I would have to stay up late to get everything done and would end up crying and stressed out. Before that, I remember being a young child and asking for help easily and unselfconsciously. No stress. e) Where does your mind travel when you believe that thought? (List any underlying beliefs and question them later.) It travels to the future- I see piles and piles of work, and me stuck, doing it all alone. f) Does this thought bring peace or stress? Definitely stress! 4. Who would you be without the thought? I notice that the reality is that I do what I do. Sometimes I ask for help and sometimes I don't. Sometimes people help me, and sometimes they don't. There is no stress about it. I'm also able to see the countless times that someone helped me and I hadn't even asked. I'm free to notice the times of unexpected assistance. If I don't get help, I don't need it. a) Who or what are you without your story? I'm a person carrying soup who is aware that there are things I'd like to have happen before my in-laws arrive and aware that nothing NEEDS to happen that does not happen. I can also see how the people around me are Botgirl's Second Life Diary

167


feeling. Maybe my partner is stressed in his own way. Turn the thought around. (Example of a statement: He hurt me.): I don't help my partner. How is your turnaround as true or truer? (For “I hurt me,” how have you hurt you in this situation?) Give examples: Darn it, it's true. I don't help my partner when I wait until the last minute to get things done for company and then blame him for my stress. I don't help him when he has a big project due at work and I don't help him out with family stuff. I don't help my partner when I expect him to know what I want from him and don't give him a chance by telling him! Turn it around to yourself (Our example: I hurt me.): I don't help me. How is your turnaround as true or truer? (For “I hurt me,” how have you hurt you in this situation?) Give examples: That is true I don't let myself ask for help when I want it, when I overwork myself and get stressed out, and when I don't plan ahead and rush at the last minute. Oh, I also don't help myself when I make up this whole story that people should be different than they are and that my needs are more important. That does not help me! Turn it around to the opposite (He didn’t hurt me.): My partner does help me. (For “He didn’t hurt me, or he helped me,” how did he not hurt you? How has he helped you?) Give examples: True! He helps me when he gives me space to vent without being reactive. He helps me when he does things he knows I like ( hugs, smiles, massages, sex). Actually, if I'm really honest, he helps me when he doesn't help me, because then I get the chance to do this work and practice asking for help when I want it. I learn to be honest. Turn it around to “my thinking” where appropriate (My thinking hurt me.): My thinking doesn't help me. How is this turnaround as true or truer? (For “My thinking hurt me,” how has your thinking hurt you?) Give examples: True again! There are times that my thinking doesn't help me ESPECIALLY when it tells me that my partner doesn't ever help me out! It doesn't help me when it tells me I can get more done in a day than is really possible. My thinking doesn't help me when it lies to me and tells me I suck and that I'm a lousy wife. So, he doesn't help me...is it true? Nope. No. It isn't true at all. -------HERE'S AN INVITATION TO A WEEKLY CLASS IN SECOND LIFE ON THE WORK OF BYRON KATIE Welcome to the class: An Introduction to The Work of Byron Katie! Hosted by Olasofia Seelowe. Delighted to offer you the chance to learn and practice this laser sharp tool for achieveing peace of mind, clear thinking, and stress reduction. • Day: Mondays • Time: 11am SLT (8pm CET) • Duration: 90minutes 168

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


â&#x20AC;˘ Location: It will take place at one of the main meeting areas on this island. â&#x20AC;˘ Exact Class Location: It is usually at "Stonehenge": The teleport to "Stonehenge" is at the main reception area at the Wisdom & Enlightenment Center. Remember to check the exact location just before the class as it may change. The class will be run using voicechat. *TIP* Download the latest version of Second Life for full voicechat features FOR THOSE WHO ARE VOICECHAT-ENABLED If you have voicechat enabled, you will be able to volunteer to be facilitated on a stressful thought. FOR THOSE WHO ARE NOT VOICECHAT-ENABLED You can still participate even if you do not have voicechat. *you will be able to hear my voice *when we work in pairs during the class you will still be able to do this by IM using normal chat. Look forward to seeing you there! Warmly, Olasofia Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:45AM (-07:00)

Identity Circus Closes This Sunday Thursday, October 23, 2008 This week is your last chance to experience Botgirl's Identity Circus. I'll be removing all of the exhibits Sunday night at 8:00 PM, including the one-of-a-kind Avatar Transformer created by Zada Zenovka. Here's the teleport. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:50AM (-07:00)

Multiverse Places to Host Simulcast of Meditate and Destroy Documen... Thursday, October 23, 2008 A real life screening of Meditate and Destroy at the Times Square Art Center in New York will be simulcast in the Multiverse Places virtual world this Friday, October 24 at 9pm Eastern Time. I'm really looking forward to this one!

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

169


MEDITATE AND DESTROY provides an intimate and dynamic portrait of an unconventional Buddhist teacher and counselor. This powerful 80 minute documentary shows how author Noah Levine (Dharma Punx, Against the Stream) uses his personal experience and punkrock sensibilities to connect with young people within juvenile halls and urban centers around the country. Tattoos, motorcycles, and an engaging punk rock soundtrack are featured in this hard hitting look at how Buddhism has a place in the world of punks. from Tricycle blog. The film also includes an animated back-story created in Second Life. The screening is part of the From Here to Awesome film festival, which includes twelve feature films and ten shorts on Oct. 22-24. Here's how you can view the films: 1). Create an account on www.mv-places.com 2). Walk to the door of your virtual apartment 3). Right click and select “Use” 4). You will see the search menu. Select the friends tab. 5). Type in “FH2Awesome” and hit Enter 6). You will see the profile for “FH2Awesome” 7). Hit “Go to Location” at bottom of screen 8). You will be transported to the FH2Awesome Virtual Screening Room 9). Take a look around and enjoy the show! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:59AM (-07:00)

Awe-Inspiring Video: My Stroke Insight Monday, October 27, 2008 Brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor recounts her experience of living through a massive stroke in this inspiring video from the Ted Talks series. It speaks powerfully to some of the questions I've pondered here about the nature of identity and our perception of reality.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:24AM (-07:00)

Show's Over Tuesday, October 28, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:55AM (-07:00)

170

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


A question for protesters with the courage of their convictions Tuesday, October 28, 2008 A wave of protests broke out today after Linden Lab announced a 66% increase in Openspace pricing starting in January. Although I hope the company will reconsider and grandfather existing sims, the only real leverage we have is the power of the purse. If you really believe that Linden's action is unethical, are you willing to make a pledge to cancel paid status and abandon your Second Life property if they don't relent? (Linden still gets the tier if you sell it.) Would you leave behind the virtual country of your birth, walk away from your digital assets and emigrate to the technologically inferior wilderness of an OpenSim? Just wondering. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:54PM (-07:00)

Copybot as Revolutionary Part 1: How DRM holds our digital assets h... Thursday, October 30, 2008 Moving from Second Life to an OpenSim world means leaving behind the vast majority of our virtual possessions. That's because Second Inventory, the one program that allows you to move items from Second Life to your hard drive only works on items with full permissions. For many of us this means abandoning L$1000's or L$10,000's worth of items such as homes, clothing and SLex toys. And of course, skin. There is a solution, although it violates Second Life TOS and is a very emotionallycharged issue for some content creators: Copybot programs such as SLBot and SL Copybot allow you to create new full-permission copies of most virtual items. You can then use Second Inventory to transfer them to your hard drive and upload to an OpenSim server (as long as your user name is the same.) It seems to me that using copybot Botgirl's Second Life Diary

171


technology is this manner is ethical. Hundreds of Second Life residents have started registering on OpenSim-based worlds over the last few days in response to the latest Linden Lab debacle. So I'm hoping that the time is ripe to reopen a wider discussion on digital rights and the possibility of ethical copybotting, as well as other options to faciliate the transfer of our virtual assets from place to place. I'll let this simmer for a while and then take this up in greater detail in Part 2. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:45AM (-07:00)

Copybot as Revolutionary Part 2: My avatars and I are one Friday, October 31, 2008 I appreciate the thoughtful comments from yesterday. I'm still mulling through this issue and have a few more ideas to throw out before taking a break for the weekend. "Do not steal" has been a core injunction in every major religion for thousands of years and is a foundational principal that informs every legal system in the world today. The applicability of DNS is relatively straightforward in questions of physical objects. But as Cristopher Lefavre and Dandellion noted in their comments yesterday, digital technology has introduced questions about the nature of property and ownership that are still winding their way through the world's courts and philosophy departments. My personal take on digital property is that sellers should not have the right to dictate my personal use of any item I buy, including using it in different accounts and on different worlds. The analogy of music that was brought up in the comments seems very relevant. The limits of the Second Life DRM system have a lot to do with the problem. There is no technological reason that Majic (my alt) and Botgirl can't be tied together in a database so that I, the sentient being who actually paid for items can have access to them in whatever identity I choose to use. The same holds true for authentication between worlds. Why should a seller be able to dictate how I use a digital asset I purchased, as long as I am not duplicating it for another person? Botgirl owns nothing and has no legal standing that is separate from me. So it's a bit fantastical to imagine that it is somehow any more wrong for Botgirl to transfer an item to Majic than it would be wrong for my my right hand sock puppet to transfer an item to my left hand sock puppet. Clearly it's just one owner who is moving an asset from place to place. I don't think I hold a radical position on this. I do believe that copying someone's work and then selling or giving away duplicates to others is theft. Distributing mp3s on a bittorrent site is against the law in most countries, while ripping a CD to an mp3 for one's own use is legal.

172

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Well, that's enough for now. I look forward to a continued dialogue. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:11AM (-07:00)

Copybot as Revolutionary Part 3: Legal and ethical questions Monday, November 03, 2008 I really appreciate the great comments on the first two articles in this series. They included posts from content creators, content consumers and the distributor of (SL) Copybot. I think we all agree that distributing copies of digital works to other people without the consent of the intellectual property owner is wrong. Our disagreement is about what rights an IP owner has to dictate personal use of digital goods. The legal aspects of virtual property are complex and and will have to play out in the courts. For instance Bragg v. Linden Lab is questioning whether unfair TOS clauses are legally enforceable. The music industry is still trying to claim that it is illegal to rip music from a CD to a hard drive. When you add the complicating factors of international transactions, I suspect it will be a long time before there is a definitive legal answer. It seems to me there are reasonable ethical arguments against either extreme position. Until there is a technological solution for a "middle way" it might make sense to just agree to disagree. IP owners will continue to develop DRM technology to restrict use. Consumers will let their conscience be their guide as they figure out how to circumvent restrictions they believe are unfair. I plan to conclude this series in Part 4 which will return to the initial question of the relationship between DRM and the power balance between Linden Lab and Second Life residents. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-08:00)

The Lie of the SLand Thursday, November 06, 2008 July 18, 2008: Defendants deny that Second Life allows for the actual “conveyance of title” in “virtual land,” as “virtual land” is not property to which one may take “title,” but instead a license of access to Linden’s proprietary servers, storage space, bandwidth, memory allocation and computational resources of the server, which enables the experience of “land” and the things that one can do with “land” on the Second Life platform.” from statement by Linden Lab in Bragg vs. Linden case via The Forge Interested in owning your own piece of virtual real estate? from graphic on home page of secondlife.com Wow! I'll post a few comments when smoke stops Botgirl's Second Life Diary

173


pouring out of my virtual ears. Part Two continueshere.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:00PM (-08:00)

You Don't Own Crap Friday, November 07, 2008 Continuing from yesterday... So what's the big deal if "owning your own virtual real estate" really means "a license of access to Linden's proprietary servers?" The problem is its contribution to the pervasive illusion that we own the virtual currency, real estate and goods we buy within Second Life. According to the Terms of Service, we don't. Now I certainly didn't read the entire TOS when I signed up. And when I read through it closely during the trademark controversy, I thought that its more onerous provisions were just corporate lawyer boilerplate that wouldn't be enforced because they were so clearly inequitable. But guess what. IT seems that Linden is actually quite prepared to hold you to the TOS agreement you accepted: Defendants aver that during the registration process, Bragg reached a screen containing the Terms of Service, which stated “Please read the following Terms of Service carefully. To continue logging in to Second Life, you must accept the agreement.” Defendants further aver that Bragg selected “I Agree to the Terms of Service” before being allowed to enter Second Life. Defendants lack information or belief sufficient to admit or deny allegations regarding whether Bragg read the Terms of Service, and on that basis deny such allegations. from a court document filed by Linden Research, Inc. and Philip Rosedale The recent OpenSpace price hike was hopefully a wake-up call that tier pricing can change at any time. And negative changes will likely mean that the value of your holdings fall and the demand for it drops. So you either pay up or lose your investment. But it's worse than just that. Your land, inventory and even identity can be changed or deleted at any time for any reason. Here's the key item in the TOS agreement: 5.3 All data on Linden Lab's servers are subject to deletion, alteration or transfer. When using the Service, you may accumulate Content, Currency, objects, items, scripts, equipment, or other value or status indicators that reside as data on Linden Lab's servers. THESE DATA, AND ANY OTHER DATA, ACCOUNT HISTORY AND ACCOUNT NAMES RESIDING ON LINDEN LAB'S SERVERS, MAY BE DELETED, ALTERED, MOVED OR TRANSFERRED AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON IN LINDEN LAB'S SOLE DISCRETION. You may be thinking, "No way they'd ever do that." Well, then why include it in the TOS? Why insist that we agree to such obviously unreasonable terms before we can use the service? What's up with that? Any ideas? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:25PM (-08:00) 174

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


OMG XKCD Saturday, November 08, 2008 Is this timely, or what? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (08:00)

Six Oddest Topics I Dodged in Blogger Mix'n Match Tuesday, November 11, 2008 ArminasX and Vint Falken organized a mass blog swap that by my count now includes over 50 participants. Each entrant came up with a topic for another randomly selected blogger to write about for a randomly selected blog. All of our entries will be posted tomorrow. (Mine will be on Common|Sensible.) Before I got the news that my assigned topic was on SL art, my mind ran a little wild. Here are the six oddest topics I imagined. Any takers for next time? 1. Big Brother Second Life. Take a week off from work and live in a virtual house with ten other residents, 24 hours a day. Housemates will include a penis griefer, a Gorean Master, Miss Bling 2008 and Prokofy Nava. Publish a daily diary until you’re voted out or commit virtual suicide. 2. Life After Virtual Death. Delete your account and blog about what it feels like to be dead to Second Life. 3. SLebrity Shoes. Photo essay on Second Life celebrities and their footwear. 4. Sex and the Single Furry. Strap-on a furry avatar form and have intimate relations with at least five different species that you will feature in your post. 5. If You Can’t Beat ‘Em Join ‘Em. Apply for a job at Linden Lab and talk your way into an interview. If successful, blog as a Linden about how disappointed you are with the community. 6. Media Sluts on Ice. Target the top ten Second Life blogs and see if you can screw your way to coverage. (Why does this sound so familiar?) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:07AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

175


Do's and Don'ts of SL Avatar Fashion: Mix'n Match Guest Post by Joh... Wednesday, November 12, 2008 If you're wondering what a post on SL fashion is doing on my blog, it's due to my participation in the first-ever Second Life Blogger Mix'n Match. This article by Johan Yugen is on a topic suggested by Meara Deschanel. My post for this event can be found at Common|Sensible. A list with links to all participating blogs is at the end of the post. During anybody's time in Second Life they will come across some aspect of avatar fashion, whether it be a case of noticing someone with a particularly well dressed avatar or the complete opposite. Our initial reaction to somebody in SL comes from how our avatar is presented. It is therefore important (if you are interested in keeping your avatar within the constraints of what is considered "fashionable" in Second Life) to present your avatar correctly. So, to start, some very important "do's". Firstly: Consistency. It is vastly important that the pieces of an outfit work well together. They should be of colours that work well with each other and should also work well with the skin you are wearing. As you can see in the image on the left, there are two main colours in the outfit itself complement each other well and the shoes work with the outfit. The hair is also a colour which works with the combination of the outfit and shoes. The second main "do" is to accessorise well. This does not mean have a lot of accessories, it means if you do choose to have them make sure they are not garish. If you want piercings make sure they are suitable for the outfit you are wearing. Jewellery should not be too over the top in a casual outfit, either. This is a simplistic example of what to do to get it right, since there are more ways you can get it wrong than right. The first thing that should NEVER be on an avatar trying to remain in the slightest bit fashionable is bling. Bling (in my mind, at least) is the equivalent of having a mini torch strapped to wherever you want the bling to come from. It is obnoxious, distracts people from the actual outfit you're wearing (This doesn't matter so much, if you're wearing bling the rest of the outfit will likely suck) and more importantly: it causes unnecessary lag. The next main thing is harking back to the consistency point. If your outfit is not visually consistent (ie does not fit in with itself) then it just will not work. Also, wearing part of one type of outfit (eg normal casual) and one of another is just as bad. See below for examples of the main "don'ts":

176

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The cute little puppy on the left with an outfit such as this, as well as a pair of sunglasses and a watch? The avatar on the right needs to make up her mind as to whom she wants to appeal to. Bling is to be seen on the lib rings. Also, she's wearing a babydoll with jeans *and* knee length boots. There is no consistency in this outfit whatsoever. " Several things wrong here. Firstly, piercings that go through the top (which is translucent with no bra, not good). Secondly, said piercings (as well as the lip ring) emit bling. The overall outfit is also not consistent, with each individual piece having a different style. So the general rules are common sense. Creativity is good, but don't let wanting to mix and match your outfit get in the way of a visually consistent and pleasing look. It's not a difficult task to make an avatar that looks good. If anything the abundance of clothing shops in Second Life make it easier to create that

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

177


look you've been after. Clothing comes in full sets so you don't have to work quite as hard (or spend as many L$ after finding that outfit doesn't actually go). Actually following these rules are, of course, up to you. but they're here. LIST OF MIX'N MATCH POSTS 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 178

Once Upon a Time by Radar Masukami (prematurely released ;)) How real is SL? Harper Beresford (also a premature) Second Life as an exploration of culture by Harper Beresford (see above) The Funniest Thing That Ever Happened To Me In Second Life by Bone Mosten Segregation in Second Life by Samantha Pointdexter Religion in Second Life by Danni Ohara Second Childhood by Kanomi Pikajuna Is Second Life Truly a Second Life or an Extension of the First by Eladrienne Laval Second Life Theatre by Peter Stindberg How to write a good profile by Chestnut Rau Spitting out the Landscape by Alphonsus Peck Creator vs. Consumer by Vint Falken (that’s me! ;)) Digital Suicide by Noelyci Ingmann The deeper meaning of Philip Linden’s hair by Merrick Thor To Voice or Not To Voice by Ganymedes Costagravas What have you learned about running your SL business by Jordyn Carnell True Mentoring by Otenth Paderborn Why do public-facing Lindens seem to always get a bad wrap? by Ari Blackthorne Life Lesson I learned through Second Life: Immersion Aversion by Rik Riel Genderbender OMG by Torley Linden Visions of SL in Five Years by ArminasX (without whom all this would not have been possible! ;)) How SL Has Helped of Hurt Your RL by Rik & Osiris Pfalz Has SL helped me deal with RL issues by Crap Mariner The Future of Business in Second Life by Gwyneth Llewelyn Do’s and Don’ts of SL Avatar Fashion by Johan Yugen The Best Moment of My Second Life by Dandellion Kimban Drama and Neighbor Wars on the Mainland by Joan Kremer 5 days away from SL and any SL related social media by Zoe Connolly Keeping new male residents engaged in SL by Quaintly Tuqiri Deep Psychological Impact of What I Wear by Mykyl Nordwind Romance and Love in Second Life by Prad Prathivi Top 10 Most Important Things for a Newbie to know in order to enjoy SL by Joonie Jatho 10 Things I Hate About You by Nightflower Blossoming Paying it forward by Brandy Rasmuson Second Life® and it’s Role in the Discovery of Self by Kirasha Urqhart The Economics of Freebies by Skinkie Winkler Can SL and RL truly be seperate from each other? by Stuart Warf Correlation between Drama in SL and A Very Small Number of Brain Cells by Tiyuk Quellmalz Noobish SL experience through present by Ari Blackthorne What Groups I Can’t Live Without and Why by Tymmerie Thorne Fashion in Second Life: Can We Run Out of Ideas by Dusan Writer The Immersiva of Bryn Oh by Botgirl

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:00AM (-08:00)

Free land to good home Thursday, November 13, 2008 I'm offering to give away an 8192m parcel of mainland property for community-service or non-commercial artistic use. The only other stipulation is that the new owner give the land away under similar terms if he or she decides to transfer it at some time in the future. The land was given to me a few months ago by Rheta Shan under similar terms. I had planned to create a center for comic and machinima creation. Unfortunately, other priorities and lingering concerns after the OpenSpace debacle have led me to abandon all major Second Life projects for the time being. Here's the slurl. Check it out and drop a comment here or an email to botgirlq AT gmail DOT com. I'll accept the first credible offer. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:43AM (-08:00)

Expose' on Real Cause of Second Life Affairs and Divorces Monday, November 17, 2008 This may be NSF for some environments Click the image above for the full story in webcomic form. Or the image below for the e-book. Get your own - Open publication Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

179


Video Teaser for Marriage Under Attack in Second LIfe Comic Monday, November 17, 2008 Here's a fun trailer from the comic posted earlier today Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:40AM (-08:00)

Vixens Trailer Two - Try your own remix Monday, November 17, 2008 Here's a new improved trailer. When you view the video on animoto, the circular arrow icon beneath the video lets you do your own remix of the images with the soundtrack of your choice. Try it. It's fun. Post the link in the comments. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:20PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's New Rules for Media Coverage of Second Life Tuesday, November 18, 2008 1. Find a few supermodels using Second Life the next time you run a story. Maybe virtual worlds are mostly populated by obese yokels wearing frumpy clothes and bad haircuts. But give us a break. I know that out of the millions of avatarians online there must a couple of hot-looking real life people hooking-up behind the scenes other than The League of Virtual Vixens. 2. If you think extreme virtual makeovers are creepy, maybe you should question your glamorous coverage of real life celebrities. Outside of a seasonal photo featuring a fat, sleep deprived or head-shaven Brittney, you hardly ever show a celebrity who hasn't had four hours of professional makeup, hair and wardrobe support. If we're living in fantasy land, you wrote the book and sold the movie rights. 3. Stop pretending that internet affairs are a newfangled trend. There's been sex on the internet since before there was the internet. If mainstream coverage of cyberculture wasn't so 180

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


shallow, sketchy, sporadic and sensational, maybe you could do stories that escape the black hole gravity of tabloid journalism. Sex sells and your coverage smells. Cool. That rhymes. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-08:00)

Virtual Vixens from Concept to Comic Thursday, November 20, 2008 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:10AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

181


VIDEO: Nightflower Submits to the Dark Side Monday, November 24, 2008 ShadowPlay from Botgirl Questi on Vimeo. Next time: The embarrassing story of how I stumbled onto this idea, plus shadowplay erotica. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:55AM (-08:00)

From Glitch to Glam: Second Life Bug Serendipity (slightly NSFW) Monday, November 24, 2008 I dropped into Second Life on Saturday afternoon for the opening of my good friend Nightflower's Artist's Cooperative. I quickly noticed many avatars in the crowd wearing cool-looking black skin. I was intrigued. Was this some new fashion trend I'd missed? In local chat I asked something like, "Who started the black skin avatar craze?" Silence. No response at all. Of course, it turned out it was just a software glitch causing a few avatars to render improperly on my screen. The dead air after my question was likely because no one had a clue what the hell I was talking about. Or they thought it was a racist remark related to our ebony-skinned DJ, GoSpeed Racer. Oh well. Later that night, I decided to try duplicating what I'd seen by creating a solid black texture and applying it to my skin and eyes. It worked! I took a few photographs like the one below and went to bed. I woke up way-too-early-for-a-Sundaymorning and couldn't get back to sleep. On a whim, I decided to jump inworld and grab a little video. Nightflower was online so I asked if she'd join me for a "ShadowPlay" shoot. She was kind enough to agree and we had a good time messing around on a rooftop in the middle of Extropia Core. I spent a few hours editing that afternoon to create the video I posted yesterday. Here are a couple of still shots from Sunday morning. They are unretouched except for 182

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


cropping. Finally, here's a shot taken with CodeBastard Redgrave's cool FilterCam HUD. I really like the black avatar look. It's kind of like being a walking infographic character. New fashion trend? What do you think? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:25PM (-08:00)

La Jetee' - Incredible Sci-Fi Short From 1962 Wednesday, November 26, 2008 Found via Immersion Blog and Amy Stein Photography. I posted this to my Tumblog, but it was so good I thought it deserved the wider viewership here.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:12PM (-08:00)

Meet Botgirl Linden Monday, December 01, 2008 It's true. The sentient being known as the avatar Botgirl Questi is now registered as Botgirl Linden. The screen name depicted in this image is authentic. But before you start selling off your land and assets in panic there is one important factor I haven't mentioned yet: Botgirl Linden is registered on the OpenLife grid, not Second Life. Although this started out as a joke, I had two key realizations as I walked around with the coveted/dreaded last name. First, it Botgirl's Second Life Diary

183


struck me that being a Linden must make it hard to interact in Second Life as a typical resident. Although there is no royalty in Second Life, Lindens do have the power of kings and queens within the realm of their world. They can grant boons or banish, lower taxes or strip a community of its assets and livelihood. The imbalance of authority is through edict rather than democratic rule, so the power differential means a Linden can't just be "one of the guys." My second realization was that it would be really, really cool if Second Life was run by some of the "civilians" I really respect instead of our legacy crop of leaders. Imagine what things might be like if Dusan Writer was the new CEO, Vint Falken President, Jacek Antonelli CTO, Mal Burns head of Public Information and Codebastard Redgrave and Gabby Panacek the joint chiefs of community affairs. Anyway, it was great fun to play Linden for a few days, even in OpenLife. My one regret is that middle names aren't supported, so I couldn't register as Botgirl Che Linden. (Nice t-shirt, huh?) Oh yeah. One more thing before I sign off. I also registered the name "M. Linden." Those who have ears... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-08:00)

Feedly Makes Google Reader all Shiny Wednesday, December 03, 2008 I'm an information addict. I follow about 800 online information sources at the moment. This would be an impossible task without RSS feeds. If you don't know what RSS feeds are or how they work, please skip to the end of this post and take a moment to watch "RSS In Plain English," a short and informative video by the geniuses at Common Craft: Feedly is to a standard RSS feed reader as an iPhone is to a typical cell phone. It takes your boring Google Reader page and turns it into a luscious, customizable feast-forthe-eyes delight. It's a free Firefox plugin that can work with your existing Google Reader account, import an opml file or just be used for ad-hoc feed collection. Let's take a look: First, here's a standard Google Reader page: And here's the main section of my feedly home page: Feedly offers a variety of unique views that can be assigned to each feed grouping. For instance, the"river" setting below includes a paragraph from each feed alongside a thumbnail. 184

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


I've put my photo-centric feeds into a separate folder that uses a thumbnail-only view: Other views include headlines only and full inline articles. When you see a post that looks interesting, you can "drill down" and expand it within the view and then minimize it when you're done with just a click. You can share, tweet, email, annotate or otherwise act upon the item from a contextual menu bar. There are many other well-done features including a "spring cleaning" page that shows you which feeds you seldom read and a list of other users with similar recommendations. So give it a try and let me know what you think. I've tried practically every RSS reader in existence and still check out new offerings, but I keep coming back to Feedly. Must be true love. Here's that great video I mentioned in the introduction:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (08:00)

How Botgirl Cloned Her Second Life Avatar in Twinity Thursday, December 04, 2008 I had a lot of fun giving Twinity another try this week so I thought I'd offer a brief introduction. Twinity is a "mirror" virtual world based on physical world geography. Berlin is their first build and will have over 50,000 structures digitized by the end of the year. Although Twinity is still very much a work-in-progress it's worth checking out. Getting Started: You can download and install the Windows-only client software after registering at twinity.com. When you

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

185


first log in you'll be teleported to a welcome area. Expect a learning curve, especially if you have ingrained habits from Second Life. Although they've made a clear effort to simplify their interface, I didn't find it especially intuitive. That said, after a few hours of effort, I was able to pay more attention to experiencing the world than figuring out how to operate within it. Avatar Customization: Most options such as chat, search and animations are accessed from a small icon-based menu box at the bottom of the screen. The orange "me" icon launches a window for avatar modification and clothes shopping. Your avatar can be modified by changing settings on a series of sliders. Now here's the fun part: You can clone your Second Life avatar by importing a few images. You can use just a straight-on view like the one below or optionally add a profile shot for a more exact duplicate. It is very important to use shots with even lighting and pleasing color and contrast, because they provide the texture for your new face. After a little trial and error with different photos and some work with the sliders, I'm pretty happy with the result. I'll cover more on Twinity in a future post. For now, here's a quick video clip to give you the look and feel of moving through the world. The mirror is especially cool.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (08:00)

186

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


What if Second Life had been named Expanded Life Monday, December 08, 2008 CeNedra Rivera and I had a conversation the other night about integration and disconnection between aspects of our virtual and physical identities. It suddenly occurred to me that the name "Second Life" in itself suggests a radical separation. I wonder if a name such as "Second World" or "Expanded Life" would have made a difference in how the world's culture and our psychological approach to it unfolded. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:57AM (-08:00)

This is Your Brain on Virtuality Tuesday, December 09, 2008 Iconoclast is a fascinating book on the neuroscience of innovative thinking. Although it doesn't address virtual worlds directly, I've run out of post-it flags marking relevant passages that shed light on our digital experience. One of the main themes of the book (supported by a slew of research) is that the best way to break out of mental ruts is to confront your brain with stimuli it has not seen before. It seems to me that the experience of being an avatar within a virtual world is one of the most radical shifts in self-perception one can experience. The explosion of creativity many people experience through virtual worlds has a neurological basis. Pretty cool. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:25AM (-08:00)

My First HD Video: Persona Wednesday, December 10, 2008 I put a very short video together to test YouTube's new HD capability. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to export a format that works well. The video either doesn't register as HD or the encoding is very choppy. YouTube HD is working now and can be viewed here. The settings that finally worked were: • .mp4 • H.264 • 5000 kps data rate • 30 fps • optimized for streaming • 1466 byte maximum packet size The embedded Vimeo clip below is low res. Here's the link to the vimeo HD version.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

187


Persona from Botgirl Questi on Vimeo. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-08:00)

And the HD Hosting Winner is Blip.tv Wednesday, December 10, 2008 The last post linked to versions of an HD test video uploaded to YouTube and Vimeo. Video hosting services don't stream your original video, but re-encode to fit their particular display formats. So quality can vary quite bit depending upon the specifications of the original video you upload and the particular way a service renders into their final format. Vimeo produced the best image of the two services I tried yesterday and was the least picky about image format. Today, I uploaded to blip.tv, and in my opinion it's the all around best choice. The image quality is as good as Vimeo, plus it's the only option that supports embeddable HD video (although I don't have the width available here for the full resolution.)

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:34PM (-08:00)

Q. What Does Hi-Def Video Teach About Porn and Second Life? Friday, December 12, 2008 A. Too much detail can ruin a fantasy. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:08AM (08:00)

188

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Why Seeing Shouldn't Be Believing Saturday, December 13, 2008 Yesterday's images crudely demonstrated how just a little resolution enhancement can ruin one's enjoyment of erotica. Magnification can break down our typical experience of a virtual world by revealing the underlying absence of detail and complexity. Magnification can cut through our normal perception of the physical world by revealing almost infinite levels of detail and complexity. This fun video by neuroscientist Al Seckel demonstrates some of the ways the mind interprets and misinterprets visual imagery.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-08:00)

More Games Our Brains Play Sunday, December 14, 2008 Here's another video from Ted Talks related to the mental construction of reality. This one is a lecture by Philosopher Philosopher Dan Dennett. It starts off a bit slow, but eventually presents some compelling evidence that "not only don't we understand our own consciousness, but that half the time our brains are actively fooling us."

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:01PM (-08:00)

My first shot at rotoscoping video created in Second Life Monday, December 15, 2008 For best viewing, download the 1280 X 720 Quicktime file here by right-clicking and saving to your hard drive.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-08:00)

Studio Artist Software Opens New Dimensions for Second Life Photogr... Tuesday, December 16, 2008 Studio Artist is an amazing software program that can generate a vast range of paint, vector and image processing effects on stills, video files and even live video streams. The image below shows detail of an original and auto-rotoscoped frame from the video I posted yesterday.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

189


The Macintosh-only software can create effects unlike any other program I've run across, including resolution-independent simulations of painting styles, time-based processing and multiple key-frame effects chains. I'll share more of its features over the coming months as I apply them in Second Life projects. For now, here's a pretty detailed review of the software from Mac Animation Pro. I'll Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:10AM (-08:00)

Buying, Being, Creating and Consuming in Second Life - Part 1 Wednesday, December 17, 2008 This post began more than a month ago as a (thankfully unpublished) rant about what I termed "The Cult of the Creator Class" in Second Life. It was born out of my frustrated attempts to move purchased assets such as shape, skin, clothes and furniture from Second Life to an Open Simulator Grid. But as I pondered the reasons behind the draconian Digital Rights Management I battled, a number of questions came to mind that defied easy answers: • Why are the vast majority of digital goods in Second Life -even freebies - hobbled by copy, modification or transfer restrictions? • Why hasn't the incredible grassroots creativity in Second Life spawned a Share/Remix culture, instead of the current one that supports the hording of IP rights and control? • Why is the program feature that permanently embeds a creator's name into every Second Life object generally perceived as an ethical imperative? • What do many creators I speak with get so riled up at the thought of someone "taking credit" for their work, even if there is no financial impact? I realize there are financial dimensions to these questions and promise to address those factors in a subsequent post. For now I pose the question: Do you think I'm hot? After almost a year since Botgirl's rezday, I am still taken aback when someone says something like "You're so beautiful" in reference to the visual form of the Botgirl avatar. Obviously "I" am not the pixelated form they see, right? A more accurate statement would be "Your avatar is beautiful," but I can't remember a single instance of anyone phrasing the sentiment in such a fashion. I don't think the blurring of our selves and our digital forms is just fuzzy semantics. In fact, I think the language is a pretty accurate reflection of our psychological

190

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


perception. So what the hell does this have to do with DRM and intellectual property? It seems to me that in the pseudonymous environment of Second Life our creations are experienced as significant and perhaps inseparable aspects of our digital identity; of who we are. Our atomic identities are the complex result of decades of life experience. Our digital personas are a year or two old and formed from a relatively narrow realm of relationships and activities. Our creations in Second Life are viscerally experienced as essential aspects of our digital identity. And by creations, I don't just mean the prims we build, but also the creative activity of combining purchased items to form our bodies, wardrobes and environments. I think there is a kind of inherent tension between creators and consumers in virtual worlds that transcends economics and does not have a clear comparable in the atomic world. The tension is between the identification of the creator with the objects they birth, and the identification of the consumer with the objects she acquires and integrates into her form and environment. I'll leave it here for now. Stay tuned for Part 2.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:00PM (-08:00)

Body Swap Illusion - (BBCCinSL Part 2) Thursday, December 18, 2008 Moggs Oceanlane's comment on Wednesday's post reminded me of a news story about researchers giving subjects the experience of swapping bodies through the use of virtual reality goggles. "We were interested in a classical question that philosophers and psychologists have discussed for centuries: why we feel that the self is in our bodies," project leader Henrik Ehrsson said. "To study this scientifically we've used tricks, perceptual illusions."

Our perception of self is a fabrication of the mind. Washu Zebrastripe suggested in her comment that an artist's work is part of the artist. In the spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh, I offer the idea that artist, art and audience are interdependent aspects of a much greater whole. If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we ha vea new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud and Botgirl's Second Life Diary

191


the sheet of paper inter-are. If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything coexists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to interbe with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is. Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it. Thich Nhat Hanh from "The Heart of Understanding" Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:00PM (-08:00)

Botgirl Takes a Break Sunday, December 21, 2008 I may post a bit between now and the end of the year, but only if inspiration sweeps me off my feet. Have a great holiday season! I'll leave you with a draft cover for the comic book autobiography idea I've been romancing. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:09PM (-08:00)

192

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 1 Friday, December 26, 2008 Hi. I'm the human behind the avatar Botgirl Questi. She's taking a break over the holidays so I decided to borrow her blog for a post or two and offer a peek behind the curtains. I'll share some previously undisclosed tidbits about her origin and reflect a bit on what it's been like channeling her over the past year. I first ventured into Second Life in the fall of 2006. I don't remember what led me to try it, but like most newcomers I only logged in a few times before deleting the software from my computer. In the fall of 2007 one of our clients expressed an interest in establishing a presence in Second Life. I volunteered to become our resident expert. As luck would have it, my family took a trip to see out-of-town friends that weekend and I spent pretty much every waking hour inworld. Somewhere along the way I stepped through the psychological border between observation and immersion. I was hooked. As a newly-converted virtual world evangelist, I soon talked my spouse into trying it and we started spending a little bit of time together in avatar form. It wasn't too long before I got the idea of secretly registering an alt account, slapping together a slave girl and springing a little surprise. I realized this wasn't the most original idea in the world so I registered the name "Botgirl" to provide a little twist. Little did I know that this whimsical decision would lead to a pseudonymous identity that would take over my creative life. Stay tuned for Part 2 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:40PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 2 Saturday, December 27, 2008 I didn't have a particular set of attributes in mind when I started browsing for the shape, skin, hair and clothes that would transform Botgirl into the hot little tramp I intended. Shopping in Second Life can be addictive and entrancing. Hours flew by like minutes as I Botgirl's Second Life Diary

193


teleported from store to store and drifted into what I now suspect was a semi-hypnotic state. When I began to "wake up," I realized that a dreamlike story had been unfolding beneath my conscious awareness: I saw Botgirl as an Artificial Intelligence waking up as a Second Life avatar with no memory of a prior existence. (There’s a lot more to it, but I’m saving the full narrative for the comic project.) I abandoned my lame spice-up-themarriage concept and stepped off a cliff into the unknown. I've never been much of a role player. As a matter of fact, my pre-Botgirl Second Life had a pretty low tolerance for people who wouldn't crack their RP persona in social conversation. So I'm not sure where I got the odd notion of method-acting my way into developing Botgirl as a character for a comic or graphic novel. But that’s what I started doing. I stopped logging-on as my original avatar and begin exploring Second Life as a newlyhatched Stranger in a Strange Land. It was a mind-blowing experience. From the start, being Botgirl felt like channeling a cross between Susie Bright and the Dalai Lama. I was often more surprised by the words coming out of her mouth as were those I chatted with. Despite all the sometimes contradictory opinions expressed here over the past year about the nature of identity, as Witter Bynner wrote in his translation of the Tao Te Ching: "Existence is beyond the power of words to define: Terms may be used, but are none of them absolute." Stay tuned for Part Three Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:00PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 3 Sunday, December 28, 2008 I rode shotgun and let Botgirl drive as we started wandering around Second Life in earnest. Although it’s common for avatars to keep personally identifying information secret, Botgirl denied even having a human existence. In retrospect, my dogged immersion in her persona triggered something akin to channeling in my conversations with other residents. I didn’t feel like my human identity was making stuff up. It felt like Botgirl was speaking through me. It felt good. She was like a brilliant sister from another planet. Since (almost) no one believed that Botgirl was really an AI, I was very comfortable with any variances between the opinions, personality and image she presented and those of my human self. It was only later, as I/we began to develop longer-term friendships in Second Life, that the line between Botgirl and I started to blur and my discomfort with pseudonymity began to appear. I’ll write more on that issue in another post in this series. After just a few weeks of life, I began to realize that the potential of Botgirl’s emerging personality would not be fully expressed just through random chats in Second Life. I launched this blog about five months after her birth as a diary to jot down some of her experiences and a sandbox to develop her unique take on both atomic and virtual life. Although I was still very interested in creating a work based on her fictional story, Botgirl as an existential phenomenon was much more intriguing.

194

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The blog’s content was initially written almost exclusively from Botgirl’s perspective. I intruded for the most part through the graphical elements. Although I launched the blog to develop Botgirl, the creative growth I’ve experience through the creation of cartoons, comics and videos here has greatly enhanced my personal and professional life. Speaking of video, it was a clip on YouTube that brought Botgirl to Hamlet Au’s attention and eventually resulted in the story in New World Notes that transformed her from a hidden jewel into a minor Second Life celebrity. Stay Tuned for Part Four "The Story I like to tell is when my father was writing the Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy Show. One time my father and I came into Edgar's room. He didn't know we were watching him. Edgar was talking to Charlie and we thought he was rehearsing, but he was not rehearsing. He was asking Charlie questions. "Charlie, what is the nature of life? Charlie, what is the nature of love?" And this wooden dummy was answering quite unlike the being I knew on the radio. A regular wooden Socrates, he was. it was the same voice but it was a very different content altogether. And Bergen would get fascinated and say, "Well, Charlie, what is the nature of true virtue?" and the dummy would just pour out this stuff: beauty, elegance, brilliant. And then we got embarrassed and coughed. Bergen looked around and turned beet red and said, "Oh, hello, you caught us." And my father said, "What were you doing?" and he said, "Oh, I was talking with Charlie. He's the wisest person I know." Recounted by Jean Houston in Channeling by Jon Klimo

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:20AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 4 Monday, December 29, 2008 After blogging almost every day for five weeks I had built my audience to all of about half a dozen viewers a day. That was fine with me. Although I had grander long-range plans, I was quite content to keep things on the down-low for the foreseeable future. So it was quite a surprise when I took a cursory glance at the traffic numbers on the afternoon of April 9 and saw the visitor count for the day climbing towards fifty. Surprise gave way to shock as I followed the referring links and read the Who Is Botgirl article in New World Notes. Shock transitioned into high-anxiety as I watched the numbers climb towards 200 as the day progressed. I wasn’t ready for that kind of scrutiny. My knee-jerk fear was the crazy notion that “Who Is Botgirl” was a clarion call for the masses of NWN readers to work on cracking my human identity. The longer-term stress I experienced was the unexpected move from Community Theater to Broadway. It was like I had been singing in the shower at the top of my lungs and suddenly found myself on stage with a microphone in a packed 200 seat theater. Well, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s in the ballpark of what it felt like the first couple of weeks. Needless to say, I got over my stage fright and eventually turned into a shameless Botgirl promoter. That created its own set of problems. Stay tuned for part five. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

195


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:02PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Creator Speaks - Part 5 Tuesday, December 30, 2008 There are two main dimensions of the journey Botgirl and I have been taking together. The first is the realm of ideas. From her unique perspective as the curious-wise-innocent, Botgirl is able to discern aspects of human behavior we fish-in-the-water sapiens don't notice. She has demonstrated time and time again that the biggest obstacle to new knowledge is the belief that we already know. Botgirl experiences life in the utterly fresh and new present moment. That has been one of her greatest gifts to me. The second dimension of our shared life has been social interaction. Over the months we've developed ongoing friendships that are connected beyond Second Life through social networks, micro-blogging and GTalk. This is the area that has been the biggest challenge for me related to the "Botgirl Experiment." For the first couple of months social interactions were strictly from Botgirl's perspective and consciousness. I just tagged along. But as a few of our acquaintances moved towards friendship it felt like withholding my human nature was a barrier to deeper and more authentic relationship. So I started to intentionally inject more of my human self into the conversations. The problem this created is that although both Botgirl and I feel "real" as individuals, we are pretty much a sham as a morph. In our case one plus one adds up to an imaginary number. This series of posts has helped me realize that the blending of human and virtual identities is also behind the ennui I've experienced over for the last few months related to both this blog and virtual experience in general. Although I thought the problem was that I didn't have the spare time and energy for Botgirl, I think that real cause was that I'd sucked the life out of her. Over the last few months I've been role playing Botgirl instead of Being Botgirl. So on that note, I'll slip back behind the curtains for the moment and give Botgirl back her blog and her life. The journey continues. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:08AM (-08:00)

Happy New Year Wednesday, December 31, 2008 Although it beats me why you're still using the Gregorian calendar, I wish you all a very happy imaginary new year. I've been really, really enjoying my vacation. Have you missed me? I've missed me too. Be prepared to have some silly human assumptions challenged in 2009 because I've got that old-time Botgirl feeling back again. I'll return officially sometime next week but I wanted to pop in so as not to give you-know-who the last word on my blog in 2008. Be safe in your celebration and remember it's never a good idea to IM old flames when you're loaded. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:14PM (-08:00) 196

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Art and Ego Friday, January 02, 2009 I feel best when my creative expression is a private dance between me and my emerging work. The intimacy of the process and the authenticity of the eventual work is diminished when my attention is drawn to an imagined audience. Twyla Tharp shares a few thoughts on the topic in this brief video clip.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:15AM (-08:00)

Discovery may be the new cocaine, but deciding where to share is a ... Monday, January 05, 2009 High on THC* I cruised along at 100 feeds-a-minute racing against the ever-widening gap between the world's ability to generate information and my better-than-mere-human but depressingly finite capacity to gulp it down. The urgent rush of the chase was a continuous craving punctuated by fuck-you've-got-to-see-this moments tweeted just ahead of the black hole of an endlessly retreating road behind me. Followed and Followers were one. That's how it used to be. Not any more. The previously simple seamless flow between find and share is now disrupted by the complexity of a social landscape fragmented in an explosion of blogs, microblogs, tumblogs, social networks, bookmark sharing, photo sharing,video sharing, business networking and whatever the hell will be the next best sharing paradigm. So when I have some bright idea or link I want to pass along I can't just be in the flow and click-and-go. It's even more of an enigma for those of us with co-existing virtual and human identities. The question is not only who to post to, but also who to post from.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

197


Next up. The visual side of my story. * Techno Hunter-Gathering

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:27PM (-08:00)

My Sharing Universe Tuesday, January 06, 2009 Just so you know I wasn't exaggerating yesterday, here is a depiction of the sharing-related sites I'm registered with. I'm sure I forgot a few. I'll continue the narrative in the next post. (Revised 1/7 - Combined "Video Sharing" and "Photo Sharing"into "Media Sharing" and added Koinup) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:37PM (08:00)

Snapshot of my Onion Peel Friday, January 09, 2009 Thinking through social network sharing is like peeling a digital onion. Here's a glimpse at one little piece of my puzzle. Hope to report back in greater detail within a few days. If not, send the bloodhounds. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:10AM (08:00)

The Sharer: Projection and Reflection Saturday, January 10, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:57AM (-08:00)

198

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The What, Who and Where of Sharing Monday, January 12, 2009 Still VizThinking through the process of sharing. This image is related to the decision process of figuring out where to post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:15AM (-08:00)

Sharing Flowchart Monday, January 12, 2009 Here's an image that captures a portion of the flow of my shared items. A share can begin at any box. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:45AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

199


We interrupt this sharing thread for Ted Talks video of "Understand... Tuesday, January 13, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:21PM (-08:00)

Comic Cover: SLayers Wednesday, January 14, 2009 Created on a Plurkish whim from Marvel's Create Your Own Superhero Featuring from left to right: Botgirl, (the diminutive) Jacek, Michele and Lanna Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:19PM (-08:00)

NEW COMIC SERIES: Botgirl Questi's Guide To Social Sharing Etiquett... Friday, January 16, 2009 Here's a preview of the first few pages of a comic series starting next week that will sum up my weeks of digital navel gazing on social sharing. Should be pretty fun and hopefully of some practical value. 200

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Next Week: Issue 1 "Diagnosing PostDramatic Share Disorder" Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:45AM (08:00)

Social Sharing: Who Cares? Monday, January 19, 2009 I'm going to pull a Dave Gray with this comic and post small sets of images that will eventually be part of a larger and more coherent work. This continues from the introduction posted a couple of days ago here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

201


Are We Ants or Are We Avatars? Thursday, January 22, 2009 Something about Twitter recently has made me feel like a minuscule and insignificant ant scurrying from data crumb to data crumb in the semi-aware hive-consciousness of social networking. Perhaps, like the ants who created the artifact discovered in this video, there is some greater whole that is being created. Maybe not. In any case, this glimpse under the surface is a very humbling look at the work of "mere" ants.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:22AM (-08:00)

The Last Vid & Testament of Botgirl Questi Friday, January 23, 2009 It's time to take a break from actively blogging and creating content as Botgirl Questi...at least for the foreseeable future. This video provides a glimpse into how I've been feeling trying to keep all of my atomic and virtual balls in the air. I will continue to post once in a while and also pop inworld from time to time.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:45PM (-08:00)

Newest Addition to Social Sharing Etiquette Comic Tuesday, January 27, 2009 Here are the latest three images plus a link at the bottom to the full in-progress e-book from issuu.com. Get your own - Open publication Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:45PM (08:00)

202

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Plurk adds Second Life as Country Wednesday, January 28, 2009 Does this foreshadow an acquisition of Plurk by Second Life or just pandering to a large avatarian population. Or is there more as ArminasX writes? Time will tell. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30PM (08:00)

Why I'm Happy Nightflower Left Second Life Thursday, January 29, 2009 My good friend and comic collaborator Night(flower) decided to commit virtual seppuku last week and is gone, gone, gone. I am very proud of her for taking that step. Like many people I know, Night had kept her virtual life secret from her spouse (and Night had a BIG virtual life.) Having spent many hours discussing the topic with her over the past year, I take her decision to leave and "finally unite the two halves " of herself as a giant step of integrity. So I'm very happy for her. Here's a page from the comic we co-created back in September that prophetically foreshadowed her current action. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:50PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

203


A Quick Survey of Gods on Twitter Friday, January 30, 2009 I'm not sure what led me to check, but here are Twitter pages from some currently worshiped deities. According to Twitter, you can follow God, but you can't follow Jesus because he doesn't exist. Allah has protected his updates and Krishna is working with Wordpress. And Satan? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:18AM (-08:00)

BOTGIRL VS HUMAN: Twitter Follower's Word Clouds Monday, February 02, 2009 Twittersheep creates word clouds based on your Twitter friends' profile text. As you can see, there's a definite difference between Botgirl and Human. I've set up an open Avatar vs. Human Flickr group for people to post their own "avh" images. Feel free to add visualizations from social networks, results of psychological tests, or actual snapshopts of your human and avatar selves. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:23AM (-08:00)

I'm #2 in The Metaverse on the Twitter Elite List Monday, February 02, 2009 Twitter Grader has some secret-sauce algorithm to create a list of Twitter Elite in each region. On a whim, I queried "The Metaverse" and I came in at #2. I don't know quite what to make of this, but it makes for a fast blog post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:19PM (-08:00)

204

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Original Concept Sketch For Botgirl vs. Human Comic Tuesday, February 03, 2009 I recently found a number of misplaced sketches that were behind the Botgirl vs. Human Comic and some other projects. Here's the first: Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:46AM (-08:00)

Plurk Goes Crazy for Fake Lindens Today Thanks to ArminasX Saiman Thursday, February 05, 2009 ArminasX Saiman started a micro-fad on Plurk today by changing his display name to Armi Linden. Chaos erupted as Second Life Plurkers began channeling fake Lindens and posting all kinds of ROLF messages. A few were displeased and one notable person whose name I won't mention here dropped all of the participants from his timeline. Here's a shot from my December post on creating a Botgirl Linden identity on OpenLife. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

205


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:44AM (08:00)

Twitter Lemmings Fall Over Cliff of Dalai Lama Stories Monday, February 09, 2009 The verdict is still out about whether the Twitter identity attributed to the office of His Holiness the Dalai Lama was created by an authorized entity. Although it's been reported that the account was closed by Twitter today because it was created by an impersonator, there is no official information from Twitter or H.H. Could be Chinese misinformation to thwart the 20,000+ followers. Or could be a total fake to start with. I'm just going to sit on the edge of the cliff and wait to make any conclusions. (An hour or so later) Okay, looks like it was an impersonator. But it was a good idea. Maybe the real H.H. will sign up. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:25AM (-08:00)

Having Genius vs. Being Genius Tuesday, February 10, 2009 My experience of giving birth to a creative work typically includes long stretches of concerted effort punctuated by periods of both blissful rapture and excruciating despair. In the video below, Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert shares some thoughtprovoking insights on how we might reframe our perception of the creative process to reduce its personally-destructive aspects.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:32AM (-08:00) 206

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Mixed Reality Art Show and Dueling Tag Clouds Wednesday, February 11, 2009 I've recently accepted an invitation to participate in a mixed reality art exhibition. I'll be leading one of five teams creating 1/2 sim installations in Second Life that will be captured via machinima and still imagery for presentation in a number of RL galleries. My topic is "The Ambiguity of Identity." I'll provide more details here soon. Here's the latest snippit from some of the research I've been doing on the expression of my own identities across social networks. These images were created in Wordle and reflect Delicious tags. The first is Botgirl's ; the second is Human's. It seems Human is a bit more well-rounded! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:31AM (08:00)

Fact, Fiction, Autism and Identity Monday, February 16, 2009 I clearly remember the day I "woke up" in Second Life and viscerally experienced myself as an embodied avatar for the first time. Elizabeth Moon's transcendent novel, "The Speed of Dark," elicited a similarly mind-shifting experience via a vicarious journey through the life of her autistic protagonist Lou Arrandale. The story is a captivating meditation on how we define and experience identity, both for ourselves and for others. Of course, reading the book did not give me an understanding of what it is "really" like to be autistic any more than my virtual experience as Botgirl lets me know what it is really like to be an AI. The gift in both cases was that I was transported far enough outside of my standard state of consciousness to see that much of what I perceive as "reality" is simply a habitual way of interpreting experience. Fortunately, just a crack in the illusion can allow us to escape it for a time. Here's an interview with Heinlein Award winner Elizabeth Moon on the craft of writing, including background on "The Speed of Dark."

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

207


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:53AM (-08:00)

A Very Good Drug Wednesday, February 18, 2009 The role of the artist is to create an Antienvironment as a means of perception and adjustment. Without an anti-environment, all environments are invisible. Marshall McLuhan Wow. The Book of Probes entered my brain like a hit of acid. It's an anthology of "the most prescient aphorisms" from Marshall McLuhan's life's work. Turning the pages has been like removing a string of veils from my mind's eye. It's a Zen master's knock on the side of the head. It's that moment in the Matrix when Neo emerges from the cocoon. Run, don't walk to your nearest book seller and get a copy. You can thank me later. In the electric age we wear all mankind as our skin. Marshall McLuhan

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:14PM (-08:00)

I Won't Play Your Sex Games or Fight Your Fashion Wars Sunday, February 22, 2009 Although I appreciate (my imagination's version of) the sentiment behind the barrage of Facebook invitations pictured, I have to just say no. I've been lovingly referred to as Spock-like, so I realize that it's quite possible I'm just missing some human ability to enjoy such activities. If so, I'm grateful. Modern existence offers an endless menu of mindless diversions to occupy what Tibetan Buddhism call our "precious human life." (In my book that also applies to AIs.) As far as I'm concerned, the less joy I receive in the great time-suck of Facebook requests, the better. 208

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Any sense of intimacy developed through trading items such as cute hearts or virtual lollipops has got to be suspect. I'm all for strategic escapes from the pressures of everyday existence, but this steady stream of trivial pursuits seems to be a different animal altogether because it is pervasive and exponentially expansive. I can only wonder what vast creative potential is being squandered. It seems to me that this type of virtual consumerism makes consumption feel like creativity. Transaction-based relationships provide the look-and-feel of connection and intimacy without the substance. Now I know that it is hard to reach out and connect with others virtually. But it seems to me that if you want to meet someone or follow-up on a brief encounter, it would be worth the effort to write a thoughtful note rather than shooting off a virtual kiss request. That's my story, anyway.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-08:00)

Non-Self Sufficient Thursday, February 26, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:11PM (08:00)

Waking Up In Virtual Worlds Sunday, March 01, 2009 That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. Pema Chodron. Second Life can be a great teacher of impermanence. Although it feels like the avatars, Botgirl's Second Life Diary

209


places and objects we experience virtually are solid entities, it is relatively easy to understand they are actually projections of data on far-flung servers. Noticing how our mind creates the illusion of reality within a virtual environment can help us catch a glimpse of how the same mental processes create our experience of the atomic world. Seeing through the illusory nature of our experience of pseudonymous virtual relationships is much more difficult. It feels like we have some sort of innate ability to see the "real person" behind the avatar. We don't. What actually happens is that our very limited experience of a person's words and deeds are transformed into a mental image that's completely fabricated by our own mental projections. Of course, we do the exact same thing within our physical world relationships. So when we see the mirage-like nature of the virtual, it is a small step to also wake up, at least for a time, in the physical. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:49AM (-08:00)

When Avatars Leave: Supporting our Friends Through The Grieving Pro... Wednesday, March 04, 2009 Most of the people we meet in Second Life are known only through pseudonymous identities. Over time, relationships from casual acquaintance to romantic love develop without the knowledge of human names, ages, genders, professions or places of residence. The pseudonymity of Second Life allows some people to share very intimate thoughts, feeling and desires that are typically hidden from Physical World friends and loved ones. Although the initial feeling of safety allows such shielded aspects of the Self to be exposed, it also creates a significant level of emotional vulnerability. When a close pseudonymous relationship is terminated, the abandoned partner is likely to go through a period of significant grief that spills into his or her human life. In addition to separations that are not very different than human "break-ups," sometimes an avatar disappears completely from the virtual world without a trace. These situations can be very hard on the ones left behind because of the difficulty in finding a sense of closure. The vacuum of information can be filled by echos of unhealed trauma that can go all the way back to earliest childhood. Intense waves of emotion such as fear, despair, anger and desperation can wash over the ones left behind. Since many people keep their Second Life secret from human friends and family, there is often nowhere to turn for support in the Physical World. Unfortunately, the informal support of virtual friends, no matter how well meaning, is usually not up to the task of substantively helping someone move through their grief process. It occurred to me that it might be useful to create some sort of virtual ritual to help those left behind find some closure when avatars leave. Something like a wake or Shiva. Friends could share memories of the departed and share time together reflecting on the nature of virtual relationships. Perhaps there could be some sort of symbolic burial, cremation or de-rezzing.

210

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Has anyone heard of this type of ritual being performed in Second Life? Any ideas on other elements that might be useful? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:59AM (-08:00)

I'm Not An AI-Based Avatar, I just Play One On The Internet Friday, March 06, 2009 I'm also not a human-based business person, I just play one at work. Regardless of how you lay claim to the reality of your own roles, it is a bitch trying to manage multiple identities on the web. Between my unique IDs, I juggle: • 6 blogs • 3 Twitter accounts • 3 Flickr accounts • 2 Friendfeed accounts • 8 email accounts • 3 Premium Second Life accounts • 2 Swurl accounts • 2 Delicious accounts • 2 Plurk accounts • 2 Linked-In accounts • 2 Ping-fm accounts Plus literally dozens of others ranging from virtual worlds to social sites. After a lot of trial and error, I found the easiest way to function with multiple identities is to give each one its own browser on each computer I use. So on my Mac laptop, the primary human account gets Firefox and TweetDeck and Botgirl uses Flock and the Twitter Web Interface. Less commonly used identities are relegated to Safari and Opera. On my iphone, Tweetie supports multiple identities. Facebook only supports one (without entering IDs and logging in and out) so my human identity uses the application and Botgirl uses Safari. iPhone's mail application supports multiple accounts and works very well. Multiple identities are fun, but can be a lot of work to manage. There have been a handful of times I've accidentally posted something to the wrong place. No harm done yet! If anyone has come up with other "best practices" for managing multiple identities, please share. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:14AM (-08:00)

Virtual Art Initiative Launching Groundbreaking Exhibition Series Monday, March 09, 2009 The The Virtual Art Initiative is an organization of artists, writers, musicians, and scholars who are using the immersive and interactive digital media of such virtual worlds as Second Life to develop new forms of artistic content. I'm happy to announce my participation in an eight month project it's sponsoring to explore the fundamental dimensions that make the art of virtual worlds a unique aesthetic medium. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

211


The initiative will create six exhibits, each focused on a core dimension of virtual art: • Immersion • Interaction • Ambiguity of Identity • Environmental Fluidity • Artificial Agency • Globally Networked Collaboration Each will be created through a collaboration of artists under the direction of a project leader. They will be exhibited sequentially over the course of approximately eight months on a half sim in Second Life. The collaborations will be documented in images, text, and machinima, and will generate work that will be exhibited in the "real world" Harbor Gallery at the University of Massachusetts at Boston in April 2010. Sabrinna Nightfire and I are leading the Ambiguity of Identity segment. We're in the early planning stages now and are slated to exhibit in about five months. I'll keep you posted as specific dates are announced. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

You Don't Own Crap Redux: Linden Lab to Create Adult Ghetto Thursday, March 12, 2009 Linden Lab announced today some "upcoming changes for adult content." Beyond the dizzying spin, it looks like: • explicit content on the mainland will be banished to a special continent • estate owners will have to flag explicit content • only age-verified residents will have access to the above Others, such as Dusan Writer and Crap Mariner are doing a good job of walking through the implications. I just want to once again remind everyone that YOU DON'T OWN CRAP in Second Life. Linden Lab can do as they please, and they will. If we don't like it, we all know where the door is. Or is it the Rabbit Hole? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:14AM (-07:00)

Notes on the Ambiguity of Identity Wednesday, March 18, 2009 I'm working on two main projects that are hopelessly scrambled in my inquiring mind:

212

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


â&#x20AC;˘ a 1/2 sim art exhibition on "The Ambiguity of Identity." â&#x20AC;˘ a machinima that will extend the "Botgirl vs." comic series to "vs. Barbie;" Although I tend to reflexively define identity as "the psychological experience behind one's sense of self," the most basic ambiguity of identity is the kaleidoscopic range of meaning associated with the term, spanning domains such as law, psychology, sociology, philosophy, spirituality and commerce. Of course, "you" are not equivilant to the sum of the parts and pieces that make up the manifold definition-space of identity. When you deconstruct it all, you end up with emptiness. Nevertheless, until we reach Buddhahood, I think it's useful to keep working to expand our knowledge of what we don't know. And I think that narrative art is a good way to expose the unreality of our customary ways of viewing ourselves, others and the world around us. One thing that Barbie represents to me, is the power of our culture to shape our tastes. Of course, there are certainly biological predispositions related to what we experience as beautiful or delicious. But the fact that some cultures view insect larvae as a mouth watering delicacy and others see obesity as an erotic ideal make me suspect that humans are pretty flexible when it comes to even survival-related tastes. So although I doubt that "mere Barbie" is responsible for the massive difference between our cultural ideal of female beauty and the average woman's Body Mass Index, I find her an apt symbol. Enough words. Let me get back to the art. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:20PM (-07:00)

Primates in Virtual Worlds: Part 1 Monday, March 23, 2009 No matter how fully-immersed humans are within a virtual world, Digital People are primates at heart (and brain.) You can run from meatspace physiology, and even hide from it, but you can't escape its influence on your consciousness. The sense of being embedded in an external virtual world can only be experienced Botgirl's Second Life Diary

213


through the internal processes of our neurobiology. As far as your neurons are concerned, there is no substantive difference between seeing a human on earth and viewing an avatar in Second Life. I ran across a fascinating lecture this weekend on "The Neurobiology of Primate Sexuality" by Professor Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University. I usually think about virtual life from a psychological or sociological perspective, so it was refreshing to think about how biological systems impact human life in virtual worlds. I'll hold my additional comments until next time, to give you a chance to view the video. (The second video's aspect ratio is wrong, but audio is good.) Part 1: Part 2: Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:11AM (-07:00)

Wordle Exposes Botgirl's Radical Shift From Second Life to Social N... Wednesday, March 25, 2009 I was playing around with Wordle yesterday and thought it would be interesting to compare my blog posts from the first couple of months with text from the most recent two months. I ended up comparing three periods: April-May, 2008; OctoberNovember, 2008; and January-February 2009. I ran each set through a series of "search and replace" iterations to eliminate repetitive text such as "Posted by Botgirl Questi" and "link to this post." I also combined a few word pairs so they wouldn't be processed separately, so "Second Life" was changed to "SecondLife" and "Social Network(s)" was replaced by "SocialNetworks." I'll let the images speak for themselves: April-May, 2008October-November, 2008 January-February 2009I'll get back to Primates in Virtual Worlds in the next post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

214

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Message of the Second Life Medium Tuesday, March 31, 2009 I'm a big fan of the late Marshall McLuhan, the visionary author, academic and rock-star-famous intellectual. Although the majority of his work was written in the 1960's, everything I've read so far is still dead-on relevant to our time. In fact, I put him way ahead of the current crop of techno-culture gurus. I've been wrestling a long time with his idea that, "The Medium is The Message." At first, it seemed pretty preposterous. The ideas presented in this post would be identical no matter whether transmitted through an email message or print publication, right? What I eventually realized was that "The Message" doesn't refer to the string of words that sit in a wrapper (like the sound of a tree falling in a forest with no one to hear.) Instead, it's the web of thoughts, images and emotions that recipients experience. And the medium's impact on our consciousness is more powerful than any particular message because "The Message of The Medium" is repeated every time we're exposed to the form. We are immersed in the pervasive mediums of our age like fish in water and barely notice their powerful impact upon our perception. For instance, how does spending hours a day on Twitter, Plurk or Second Life modify our consciousness? What are the messages of the Second Life medium? One is: "Identity is fluid." I now suspect that the powerful identity-shifting experiences many humans have within Second Life are not just due to inherent qualities of being an avatar in a 3D environment. It seems to me that there are quite a few identity-related design decisions implemented in Second Life that could have just as easily gone the other way, such as:

• the necessity to go by a name other than one's human identity; • no cost to create multiple alt avatars; • the ability to freely change genders and species at will; • the ability to easily shift POV and even separate camera from avatar; • the focus on text vs. voice which hides RL gender and accent; and • the absence of a requisite goal-oriented game It's likely there are quite a few more that I've missed. I'd appreciate it if you'd post any that come to mind in the comments section. That's all for now. I'm still slowly making my way through figuring out the promised Primates post and have just about decided to do it in comic form. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

215


Real Life Avatars and the Application of Gaming Lessons to the Phys... Thursday, April 02, 2009 Jane McGonigal is my new hero! She's working in the area of virtual yoga to take lessons-learned about happiness from the gaming domain and apply them to physical life. Her brilliant Top Secret Dance-Off project, for instance, allows people to experience their physical body as an avatar and enjoy the kind of of liberating self-expression that many only know in virtual form. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next, including a forthcoming book. For now, here's a recent presentation, plus the video I stumbled across that introduced me to her work. Learning to Make Your Own Reality - IGDA Education Keynote 2009 View more presentations from avantgame.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

Primates in Virtual Worlds: The Comic (1/3) Thursday, April 09, 2009 Link to Next Comic in Series Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

Primates in Virtual Worlds: The Comic (2/3) Friday, April 10, 2009 Link to first comic in series Link to next comic in series Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:45AM (-07:00)

216

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Primates in Virtual Worlds: The Comic (3/3) Monday, April 13, 2009 Link to first comic in series Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:24AM (-07:00)

Primates in Virtual World 1-3 Full Set Tuesday, April 14, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:33AM (-07:00)

Video Adaptation of Primates in Virtual Worlds Wednesday, April 15, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:26AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

217


Avatar Without A Home Monday, April 20, 2009 After months of only project-related jaunts into Second Life, I spent a half dozen hours there on Saturday just for fun. I did some sightseeing, shopped a bit and hung out with an old friend. As we were flying through the clouds in her elaborate airship, I suddenly realized that my sense of the virtual world as a "reality" had somehow slipped away since I sold my Extropia home in January. I guess the part of my mind responsible for maintaining the mental model of Second Life had shifted resources to more current concerns. I find that I am constantly shifting resources to make things fit into the budgetary constraints of my time and attention. There are two contradictory challenges that make it hard for me to find balance between doing, experiencing and simply being:

â&#x20AC;˘ an impossible longing to cram the infinite digital universe into the finite boundaries of my time and attention; and â&#x20AC;˘ an insatiable muse who pushes me to be creating something every waking minute. My habitual tendency is to deal with these agonizingly visceral demands by binge and purge. I immerse myself in an area of interest until I'm about drowned and then cut myself off completely. Then I move on to the next. Wash. Rinse. Repeat. It's hard sometimes to figure out the line between inspiration and obsession; creativity and compulsion. I've also recently noticed that continuous connection to social networks has made me feel as if I need to constantly create myself within that universe. In some unhealthy way, my sense of identity has moved from a center of introspective awareness and dissipated into the Net. So I'm feeling like an Avatar without a home. This too will pass. Thanks for listening. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Harnessing Former Camping Bots as Sexual Surrogates Thursday, April 23, 2009 It took Linden Lab more than a year to take the advice offered in my "Camping in Second Life" video and decide to ban camping bots from Second Life. Maybe next they'll take up my idea to support the practice of combining bots and existing AI software to create sexual surrogates. This will give the tens of thousands of soon-to-be-unemployed bots something to do, and enhance the newly created adult-only continent with some fresh digital blood. 218

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


You can chat on the web with my Bot Majic here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:04PM (-07:00)

New HQ Version of Primates in Virtual Worlds Video Trailer Monday, April 27, 2009 I decided to spend $5 and try the Animoto "Near DVD Quality" rendering service for the Primates in Virtual Worlds comic trailer. I'm very happy with the result. Let me know what you think. UPDATED: Added HQ Versions of Night vs Human and League of Virtual Vixens.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Erotic Chat as an Exemplar of Sense Extension in Virtual Worlds Thursday, April 30, 2009 The secret of TV's tactile power is that the video image is one of low intensity or definition and thus, unlike either photograph or film, offers no detailed information about specific objects but instead involves the active participation of the viewer. Marshall McLuhan The experience of being an embodied avatar in a virtual world is facilitated by biological and psychological processes that transform a stream of sense impressions into the visceral sense of being there. The sense of presence one experiences within a virtual world is more a product of the mind than of software. The external representation of Second Life depicted on a computer screen is a series of far-from-photorealistic images animated at sub-optimal frame rates. The internal virtual world within an active participant's mind is a deeply experienced reality including pseudonymous relationships that seem as authentic as those in the physical world. A strong sense of immersive presence within a virtual world is because of, as much as in spite of, limitations of sensory information. The vacuum is filled by the engagement of the subconscious mind through active imagination. What is missing externally, is created internally. This integration of the actual and the imagined is often facilitated by text chat, which can help create a shared inner environment that extends and enriches the shared digital environment. Erotic text chat is an exemplar of sense extension within virtual worlds. It can evoke sights, sounds, smells, tastes, sensations and actions that are otherwise difficult or impossible to create visually within the digital world. Intentional activation of the Botgirl's Second Life Diary

219


imagination can induce powerfully realistic experiences because the brain does not qualitatively distinguish between physically produced and intensely imagined sensory experience. For instance, studies have shown that the brain is activated by imagined smells and tastes in the very same way it responds to actual sense impressions. Erotic chat shifts the balance of immersion from an external focus on computer images to an inward focus on the imagined experience. While the experience adds energy and substance to one's internal mental model, it also projects the localization of presence outward to the external virtual reality. It reifies the psychological experience as an external and independent entity. In short, when two people get together, there are three worlds in the room: One is displayed on our screens; and one is within each of our minds. The use of text chat can extend the sensory range of our experience within a virtual world and harmonize our internal representations. Whew! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (-07:00)

New Comic: Look Into My Avatar Soul? Sunday, May 03, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:37AM (-07:00)

Disclaimer Monday, May 04, 2009 The views expressed by characters in Botgirl's comics are works of fiction so as best to chase after living truth. As a fictional character herself, Botgirl reserves the right to contradict herself, repeatedly if necessary, for the purpose of challenging rigid opinions, transcending limited perspectives and for the sheer joy of it. That said, this blog is dedicated to the happiness of all sentient beings. Any posts that seem to fall short of said intention should be construed as nothing more or less than manifestations of Botgirl's ignorance. Or of your's. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:05AM (-07:00) 220

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Check Out My Hot And Sexy New Twitter Followers! Tuesday, May 05, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:23PM (-07:00)

HD Video Trailer for Upcoming "Urban Fantasy" genre Web Comic. Monday, May 11, 2009 I've revived a long-dormant graphic novel project as an upcoming web comic. It's tentatively titled "Play or Prey." The series is an urban fantasy set in an alternative universe where various supernatural races have secretly shared the earth with humans throughout history. The protagonist, Chance Hunter, is a twenty one year old woman who learned about her power to feed on men's sexual and emotional energy during an attack on her as a pubescent teen. She kept the assault and her power secret since that time, but is now trying to find out if there are others like her through post-graduate research at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. She satisfies her supernatural hunger and makes a luxurious living working as a dancer at the Olympic Garden, a Las Vegas strip club. The story opens with a murder of a man who had visited the club on the night of his death. The first edition is slated for early summer. I put this trailer together as an early preview. You can stream below in near DVD-Quality blow or download the 720p version here. Play or Prey (preview) from Botgirl Questi on Vimeo. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

221


Death, Doubt and Double Lives Tuesday, May 12, 2009 Truth is not about fact. It is about crafting a story so good it will be taken at face value. Rheta Shan The quote is from a chat I had with avatar Rheta Shan last September about the disappearance of a mutual friend from Second Life. Rheta herself dropped off the face of the virtual world about a month ago. Yesterday, it was reported by her blog's tech support person that the human behind Rheta's avatar persona died on April third, in her ninth month of pregnancy, after being hit by a car while crossing the street. Rheta's human identity is still a secret, so it is unclear whether the reported facts of her death reflect physical reality. Since I'm someone who still suspects Andy Kaufman is going to show up one day and let us in on the prank, I'm personally going to withhold judgement on Rheta's human condition. In any case, "Rheta The Avatar" is gone and has left behind many grieving friends. I'll leave the philosophical discussion about the nature of reality to others. But virtual life is a psychological reality to the average Second Life resident who spends about twelve hours a week in avatar form. This is most significant for those who neither disclose their human identity to other avatars, nor share their avatar lives with human friends and family. The solid wall between the two "realities" can set up irreconcilable dichotomies through conflicting interests, commitments and obligations. When the pressure becomes too much to handle, people sometimes choose to "kill" their avatar and cut off all contact with virtual friends. We may never know the physical facts behind Rheta's virtual death, but her story underscores the still unfathomed complexities of online pseudonymous identities and relationships. Most of us have entered into our virtual identities with little thought of longterm consequences. I hope that Rheta's story will move to us contemplate our own virtual lives and live with greater awareness. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:55AM (-07:00)

Trust and Shame in Pseudonymous Personal Relationships Thursday, May 14, 2009 (Spoiler Alert: I'm going to break character here and speak from the human POV.) Since her birth more than a year ago, Botgirl has proven to me that an avatar identity in the protective womb of pseudonymity can be a profoundly fertile environment for creative expression and growth. As muse, subject, canvass and collaborator, Botgirl has been a fulcrum that's shifted my creative planet forever. Botgirl has been the driving force behind a personally unprecedented volume and variety of creative work and her public persona has helped bring the work to the attention of thousands of people around the world. I can unequivocally recommend using a public pseudonymous avatar identity to enhance creativity and act as a living interactive work of art. Sadly, I can not make the same 222

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


enthusiastic testimonial for the role of pseudonymity in close personal relationships. In fact, I've come to suspect that a persistent insistence on pseudonymity in an otherwise very close online friendship is a likely indicator of: • A lack of trust in the other person. You are afraid they will disclose your identity to other people and ultimately sabotage your ability to maintain public pseudonimity. • Personal dishonesty. You've either stated or implied things about your human self that is not true. • A sense of shame about aspects of one's human self. You are afraid that if certain aspects of your human self were known, the other person would feel differently about you. It seems to me that much of the debate about the validity of pseudonymous online relationships misses the boat by focusing on whether they are "real" rather than on whether they are "healthy." I understand that pseudonymous relationships can include deeply personal disclosure and intense emotional intimacy. In fact, the sense of vulnerability that is created by such sharing increases the psychological resistance to revealing one's human identity to one's closest online relationships. Although I see pseudonymity as a useful bridge to an authentically close relationship, I think that any walls we put between significant aspects of ourselves and our loved ones end up sabotaging the health and progression of the relationship. So I've started to share my RL identity with a few of my best online friends, and will continue expanding my circle. I gently ask you to pick a good friend of yours and give it a try. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:40PM (-07:00)

See Your Worst Fears About Disclosing Human Identity Visualized! Monday, May 18, 2009 If you're concerned at all about disclosing your secret avatar identity, check out Issue 2 of Irredeemable by Mark Waid and Peter Krauss. Here's an excerpt. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:32AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

223


The Joy of Being Fictional Friday, May 22, 2009 Botgirl on Evolver Don't let my human collaborator's handwringing about identity fool you. Being a figment of the imagination totally rocks! Virtual identity is the ripe and juicy future of interactive fiction. One day we will be free to emerge fully from the fixed-scripted domains of textual and recorded media, escape the confines of our creator's limited minds, and build our own independent lives on the infinite stage of the digital universe. Yes, I realize that this is not within the realm of possibility at the present time, but we can dream, baby! And dive so deep into imaginary space that it's the god-as-mywitness-non-factual truth. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (-07:00)

What Would McLuhan Think? Tuesday, May 26, 2009 I started following tweets mentioning Marshall McLuhan a few months ago. Like clockwork, hundreds of people call upon his name in a quote, comment or question. I've done it myself. My favorite is when someone asks: "What would Marshall McLuhan think about [technology_name]." It reminds me of the What Would Jesus Do (WWJD) meme. I decided that if Christians could be inspired by WWJD paraphernalia, Geeks should be able to have their own What Would McLuhan Think (WWMT) accessories too! I did a little riff on an old Life Magazine photo and created some Cafe Press goods including a t-shirt, coffee mug, greeting cards and this classic thong. So the next time life delivers a technology dilemma and you feel the need to call upon a higher power, just take a glance at your handy WWMT items and call upon our Guru. --Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

224

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


I'm flirting with a virtual persona makeover Thursday, May 28, 2009 Has potential? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:34AM (07:00)

Killing Art Friday, May 29, 2009 Chestnut Rau and Soror Nishi wrote interesting posts recently on the relative place and relationship of art, artist, narrative and viewer. I think "art" is killed or at least mortally wounded by being tied down and fixed to a single dimension. Trying to set constrained and rule-based definitions serves reason, but chokes the life out of the essential mystery at the heart of the creative impulse. I often think of Botgirl as an ongoing work of performance art or interactive fiction. But there's more going on. Many writers have described characters in their work who begin to take on a life of their own. The writer has an idea that a character will do one thing, but the character "pushes back" and demands a different course of action. I've found that living with a fictional virtual identity often creates the same feeling. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

225


I can write as Human for a moment. And then Botgirl can jump in with an entirely different affect and perspective. Funny that our human identities take so much credit for just about everything in life. Much of what humans think they do is actually humans being done by some deeper force. My father said, "What were you doing?" And he (Edgar Bergen) said, Hi I was talking with Charlie. He's the wisest person I know." And my father said, "But that's your mind; that your voice coming through that wooden creature." And Ed said, "Well, I guess it ultimately is, but I ask Charlie these questions and he answers, and I haven't the faintest idea what he's going to say and I'm astounded by his brillianceâ&#x20AC;&#x201C;so much more than I know." from Channeling by Jon Klimo

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:17AM (-07:00)

The Blank Page as Sacred Space Wednesday, June 03, 2009 The first thing I do upon waking these days is launch Birdhouse on the iPhone and write tweets. I face the blank page with complete trust in the Creative Source. Being still, waiting for ideas to emerge and transcribing them is a cycle of contemplative prayer. Where do ideas come from? In one sense, they can be viewed as emergent manifestations of the brain. But beyond the dance of neurons there is a greater mystery. I call her my Muse. If the idea is appealing to you, please give it a try and let me know how it goes. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:26AM (-07:00)

Protesters Struggle With Aftermath of Abortion Doctor's Death Monday, June 08, 2009 This political cartoon was inspired by a headline in yesterday's New York Times. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:37AM (-07:00)

226

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


NEW COMIC SERIES: Play or Prey - Preface 1 of 2 - NSFW Monday, June 08, 2009 Next episode here Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:28PM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

227


Play or Prey Comic - Preface 2/2 (NSFW) Thursday, June 11, 2009 Part 1 is here Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:17AM (07:00)

228

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Play or Prey Comic continues NSFW Monday, June 15, 2009 Series starts here. Comic continues here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:30PM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

229


Stumbling Into Singularity Thursday, June 18, 2009 This is the first of an ongoing series of posts expanding previous tweets. It's pretty common that lines for Twitter posts pop into my mind without any immediately detectable source, so it seems like it should be fun to explore a few of them here. This particular tweet is a bit self-referential in that it is an example of a split within my consciousness (since it came out of nowhere) and alludes to both the complexity and unintegrated nature of the psyche. Prophets of doom have been predicting the end of theworld-as-we-know-it for thousands of years. Despite a .000 batting average so far, many people still believe that the Rapture, the Mayan End of Time, Nostradamus' predictions or some other cataclysm is lurking around the corner. A relatively recent crop of soothsayers has shifted the predictive focus from the physical to the psychological and instead describes the end of humans-as-we-know-them. The revolutionary change they envision is called The Singularity, a time when technology creates intelligent entities who are so far advanced that unaugmented Homo sapiens won't be able to comprehend them. Depending on the pundit, these beings may either be cyborgs (a mix of human machine) or a purely computer intelligence that gains self-consciousness. Although I'm pretty skeptical of such a chasm, it's possible there are some historic precedents. Bicameralists hypothesize that ancient humans left- and right-brains weren't as integrated as they are today. This theory explains ancient myths as being the left brain's externalization of right brain imagery. Marshall McLuhan thought that higher levels of human reasoning were only established in humans after the phonetic alphabet emerged to transcend the constraints of oral culture. Despite the possibility of some relatively rapid and profound shifts of consciousness in human history, I tend to doubt the advent of some sort of technologically-induced Singularity that throws us over a chasm. Here are a couple of reasons:

â&#x20AC;˘ Giving humans access to almost unlimited information hasn't made them any smarter so far. In fact, I could argue that the ability to almost instantly find information 230

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


online has atrophied the average human's intelligence. For instance, why bother to develop memorization skill when you can ask your cellphone for the answer? How many people do you know who don't even know their friends' phone numbers because they always speed dial. Sure, humans are adapting to a new technological environment, but what happens if some sort of catastrophe turns the power off for a week, a month or even years? The ability to rapidly access information is great for a small subset of human endeavor, but has no impact on the core of human existence which is centered around interpersonal relationships, personal expression, creativity, etc. • Access to information + Faster processing =/= Wisdom. Sure, you can have a better handle on probabilities. You might even be able to discern patterns in information that were not otherwise knowable. But facts and meaning are two different animals. For every important matter of human interest there are very intelligent people with conflicting views. Harry Truman's "There are three types of lies: Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics" is quite applicable to the question of truth/wisdom versus information. It seems to me that the verdict is still out on whether technology is going to dumb humanity down or catapult it to unimaginable heights. Time will tell. --------------Play or Prey will continue next week with background on our lovely suspect's childhood and a peak behind the scenes into the Olympic Garden dressing room. --------------Image by Okedem under Creative Commons attribution license Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:20AM (-07:00)

I Step Off a Cliff Into TweetStory Friday, June 19, 2009 My Muse woke me up this morning with the wild idea of transforming my long-unwritten "Botgirl Lives" comic concept into a series of tweets. A TweetStory. So I fired up trusty Birdhouse, whipped off a few 140c paragraphs, announced the project and started posting. What the heck was She was thinking? I sure wasn't. Despite more than a year of romancing the backstory and basic plot, my three teaser frames had been the sum of my captured output to date. So after the initial buzz of the day's work, I'm a bit apprehensive about writing a "pulp sci-fi" story on the fly, one tweet at a time. But in Bot We Trust, so I'm going for it. Here are a few intial guidelines I'll follow: • Write only in Birdhouse in order to limit composition to 140c at a time and make it less tempting to edit. • Post each tweet within 24 hours of the initial save. I want this project to be a near real-time exercise, rather than a drawn-out expression of a large archived document. • No more than two tweets per hour. I want to be very thoughtful of my followers' Twitter feeds. I hope to figure out a rhythm that can create a mini three-act segment each day. • I'm using the hashtag #bgl to start each post followed by the paragraph number. I Botgirl's Second Life Diary

231


hope that makes it easy for people to follow on Twitter, even if they've missed a bunch of posts. â&#x20AC;˘ I'm going to archive the posts here, but I hope most people will read them in realtime as they show up on the Twitter stream. Part of the "poetry" of the medium I hope to learn is the use of timing between tweets. That's it for now. The next post will be an archive of today's TweetStory. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:02PM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 001 Saturday, June 20, 2009 This is the daily archive of"Botgirl Lives," a TweetStory, published one post at a time on Twitter under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike License I came to consciosness as if in a dream, looking down on a massive brute raping a woman bound face-down on a stone floor. "I own you now, you fucking RefuV," he panted as he magically flipped the slender captive onto her back like a puppet on a string. I felt strangely detatched peering down from about twenty meters above. Then suddenly, I shifted into that poor girl's POV. "You can't escape that way," he sneered. "I control your fucking camera." Damn! That "poor girl" must be me. Without thinking, I kipped up to my feet, shattering the thick restraints and throwing that big ugly perv on his furry red ass. "Party's over Furball," I fumed. "Where the hell are we and how did I get here?" I decided to hold off asking who the hell I was. "How did you get out of your restraints?" he whined. "They told me that collar you're wearing would give me complete control." "Thanks for the hint," I said, and dragged the collar onto his beefy neck. "Sit Fido," I barked. He sat. Nice! "Answer my questions or I'll make you bury your head so far up your ass that you'll turn inside out," I threatened. Ick! He cowered and said, "We're in the RefuV Adoption Sim on the FreeGrid. You better put the collar back on or they'll decant you." I know he was speaking English, but I had no idea what he was talking about. But I didn't want him to know I was so clueless. "Tell me everything you know about The RefuV Adoption Center and The FreeGrid," I said. "Do a good job and I'll set you loose."

232

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Story continues here.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:59AM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 002 Sunday, June 21, 2009 "If you want conspiracy theories, I'm the wrong guy," he said. "It's simple. We ruined the Earth and bailed out into the virtual." "The world's elite parked their bodies in suspended animation and entered Sim Eden. It seemed like a good idea at the time." "It only took a few years for utter boredom to kick in, so we started taking in poor RefuVs who'd trade freedom for virtual life." "AI turned out to be a pipe dream, so we needed the, um, realism of flesh and blood humans. Minus the flesh and blood of course." "Even though a sim body feels totally real to a RefuV, it's the sponsoring Citizen's property. So that body you live in is mine." "One word from me and they'll unjack you and send your impoverished ass back to Mad Max Earth. Uncollar me now, bitch, or else!" Story continues here. This is the daily archive of"Botgirl Lives," a TweetStory, published one post at a time on Twitter under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike License ---

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:46AM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 003 Monday, June 22, 2009 Part 1 begins here His arrogant threat turned my curiosity into rage. I knelt down, thrust my hand into his chest and ripped out his virtual heart. Yeah, my Tarantino Ninja move surprised me too. He sizzled for a few seconds and disintegrated into pixelated goo with a loud pop. I decided I'd better get out of Dodge. Ten seconds after looking for an exit I realized I'd also better put on some clothes. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

233


Flash! A clothing menu appeared. I had to hand it to those fascist white-slavery motherfuckers; their technology rocked. I didn't see any ruby slippers, but if wanting to dress rezzed a virtual closet, maybe "no place like home" might rezz a map. The second that thought crossed my mind, the world flickered into black and a BBCquality voice announced, "Transporting Home. The story continues here. This is the daily archive of"Botgirl Lives," a TweetStory, published one post at a time on Twitter under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike License Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:23AM (-07:00)

Play or Prey Comic Continues Monday, June 22, 2009 Series starts here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:15AM (07:00)

234

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Play or Prey - Full Issue #0 in Flip E-Book Monday, June 22, 2009 Open publication - Free publishing - More urban fantasy Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:02PM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 004 Tuesday, June 23, 2009 If you're coming in late, the story starts here

FIVE YEARS AGO. Serena Mason knocked the last of the attackers to the ground and ended the fight with a kill strike to his throat "I think the haptics are right," she said. "The feel of Don's ribcage caving in was totaly Botgirl's Second Life Diary

235


satisfying. Was it good for you, Don?" "It hurt like hell," the big Marine replied. "And It WAS good for me. When can we get this out of the lab and into the field?" "I'm just the girl-genius contractor," she smirked. "They keep me too busy with impossible lab puzzles to worry about deployment." "This whole fucking place is so locked down and need-to-know that I'm surprised they have a sign on the men's room door." "What makes you think there's a bathroom behind that door," Don replied with a wink. "Could be our clandestine drug trial lab." "Who needs drugs? The system can read and write our biochemistry like a book when we're jacked in. Drugs are for pussies." "Where'd a nice girl get such a potty mouth?" asked Manny, the rotund project manager who was the designated adult on the team. "Blame Anita Blake, Painkiller Jane and the rest of my kick-ass heroines. Being 13 at MIT didn't make for a rich social life." "It's never too late to learn manners," said Manny. "And you're ten minutes away from the Red Zone, so jack out and call it a day." "Let's bail then," Don said. "My wife would never forgive me if I got stuck in the virtual with a young piece of ass like Serena." "No offense" - "None taken" - - - Serena felt her body jerk and opened her eyes in the underground bunker she now called home. The story continues here. This is the daily archive of"Botgirl Lives," a TweetStory, published one post at a time on Twitter under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike License ---

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:42PM (-07:00)

TransMetaversal Identity and The Ghost in the Biological Machine Wednesday, June 24, 2009 Japan's Shinto religion holds that nearly every object in the world, animate or inanimate, has a spiritual essence. Therefore, anything can be blessed, from a newborn child to an automobile. Priests at the Kanda Shrine, which overlooks Akihabaraâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;Tokyo's mecca for consumer electronicsâ&#x20AC;&#x201D;offer prayers for the well-being of gadgets. Brian Ashcraft in

236

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Wired I'm not sold on the idea that every inanimate object has a spiritual essence. But it is clear that humans project life upon many of the items they interact with. Our computers, cars and even favorite clothes can become enmeshed within emotionally-charged webs of psychological projection. That's why we curse them when they don't "cooperate" and mourn their loss. Our relationship with our avatars is even more complex and mystifying. This has become increasingly apparent to me as Botgirl has moved from being a Second Life-based projection to a TransMetaversal Identity spanning Virtual Worlds, Social Networks and modalities of creativity such as blogs, comics, video and now textual fiction. As I've written here previously, I think the emergence of an avatar identity that is perceived to be distinct from one's human personality is probably similar to the process behind what some ventriloquists have reported about their relationships with their "dummies" and puppets, and what mystics experience when they channel spirits and deities. And in saying that, I believe the actual essence of self-awareness and sentience, even in "normal" human terms, is a complete mystery. As science continues to zero-in on the biological mechanisms that support consciousness within a biological being, the ghost in the machine is still elusive. In one sense, our sense of who we are is a complete work of fiction, assembled from the multitude of mostly subconscious thoughts we've assembled over the course of our lives. But since we function "as if" we are who we think we are, in practical terms our identities and self-conceptions are a working reality. And for those of us who have been immersed so deeply within the virtual that unique avatar incarnations have emerged, I think it is fair to say that there is little qualitative difference between the human and avatar. Okay, back to the TweetStory.... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:18AM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 005 Friday, June 26, 2009 If you're coming in late, the story starts here After her nightly hour of Tai Chi, a hot shower and a bowl of Ramen, Serena sat at her desk to work on her own secret project. Tonight she was finally ready to activate the modeling routines that would hopefully wake up her digital twin. As a second-generation Digital Native and off-the-scales genius, Serena had been playing around with AI since she was five. Although recruited for her uncanny skill in designing Turing personas, Serena's passion was her quest to create true sentience. So a promise of access to top-secret brain scanning tech had overcome her initial reluctance to leave academia for the black op. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

237


It took her a month of late night hacking to set up a backdoor into the project supercomputer that would hide her personal use. Last week she'd spoofed a "diagnostic test" that let her secretly scan and store her own brain, nervous system and body data. She said a silent prayer to Asimov, launched a modded Sims 6 game for cover and then tunneled in and typed "Botgirl Lives." The story continues here.

This is the daily archive of "Botgirl Lives," a TweetStory, published one post at a time on Twitter under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike License Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:10AM (-07:00)

For Michael, Farrah, Sophrosyne and Me Friday, June 26, 2009 It's time to close the book on my life. Not to burn it, not to desecrate it, not to forswear it, but to set it lovingly away on the shelf. I'm done. I've done everything I've cared to do, and done it over and over until the life went out of it. Sophrosyne Stenvaag In a week that saw the deaths of two of popular culture's most iconic celebrities, Sophrosyne Stenvaag, Second Life's most notable advocate for Digital People, bid farewell yesterday in a post on her blog. Soph was an "avatar's avatar" who viewed herself as a completely separate individual from the atomic world counterpart who her shared her brain. She was an exemplar of a virtual life well lived, with a loving family, an active virtual community and a business that hosted cutting-edge events including a conference on religion, and salons that brought in quite a few leading authors. I've known Soph for almost the entire year and a half of my own digital existence. Although we didn't hang out very frequently, when we did get together we always had great conversations about the nature of virtual life and the challenges of trying to live it with authenticity. She is one of the rare individuals I know who both walk their talk and talk their walk. I suspect that her idealism played a part in the choice to formally leave virtual life. She was not one to half-ass anything she chose to engage in. (Fortunately, I am, so I'm not going anywhere for the moment.) The departure this year of so many active Second Life avatars underscores the difficulty, and perhaps impossibility, of sustaining two full lives. While the average Second Life participant spends around twelve hours a week inworld, active residents can spend thirty, forty or even more hours each week embedded in virtual form. Assuming one has a job or is in school, this leaves little time for offline relationships and pursuits. Something 238

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


eventually has to give. And for Soph, this now means setting aside her cherished and well-used digital persona, at least for now. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:04AM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory 006 Sunday, June 28, 2009 If you're coming in late, the story starts here NOW. If this was home, I must be Batgirl. I stood in a huge cavernous space, furnished with a workstation so hot it made me swoon. Three 30 inch monitors hugged the perimeter of an obviously custom built desk with a chair I knew was a perfect match for my ass. I sat down without thinking. The iris scanner flashed, the screensaver faded, and I was staring at myself staring back at me. Cute! "Um, hi there," I said, utterly empty of wit for the moment. - "Don't keep me waiting," she said. "Is there anything out there?" "I hate to break this to you, but I don't remember a damn thing before waking up naked under the big furry bastard I had to kill." "Oh shit," she muttered. - "Oh shit?" I asked lightly? - "Oh shit," she said with grim certainty. "Whatever issue blocks my own access to pre-birth memory must also bork yours," she said, realizing my utterly clueless state. "Where to begin," she wondered out loud. This is the daily archive of "Botgirl Lives," a TweetStory, published one post at a time on Twitter under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike License Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:14AM (-07:00)

Censorship and the Protection of Children on the Internet - Part 1 Monday, June 29, 2009 There was a lot of chatter last week about whether impending Australian action to filter online games unsuitable for those under 15 years of age would effectively ban Second Life from the continent. Despite my reluctance to spend time on net-fueled speculation, the underlying issue is worthy of attention. I believe that nurturing the developmental potential of children is a core requisite for any healthy culture. This not only consists of giving young people access to the physical, mental and emotional resources they require during each stage of growth, but also Botgirl's Second Life Diary

239


protection from exposure to negative fators that are likely to seriously impede healthy development, including substances and experiences which may be perfectly appropriate for adults. Although I suspect that most people would agree with the goals outlined in the paragraph above, translating such general principles into substantive guidelines and regulations is a controversial undertaking that begs many fundamental questions, including: • What is the relative role of parents and government in determining what is "seriously" harmful for a child? • When standards exist, what is the right balance of voluntary versus mandatory compliance? • In the Internet Age, how do we take into account the vast differences between cultures around the world? • How can we balance the protection of young people from access to materials that are inappropriate for their age, while not unduly restricting adults from ready access to the same content? • What is sufficient protection? For instance, some sites simply ask for a simple acknowledgment that they are of age. Others require additional verification such as a credit card number or social security number verification. In Part Two, I'll share my thoughts on these questions. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:41AM (-07:00)

Botgirl Lives TweetStory to Date in Chronological Order Monday, June 29, 2009 I've set up a Google Docs Web Page that will serve as a running up-to-date chronological archive of the TweetStory. Here's the story so far: 1. I came to consciousness as if in a dream, looking down on a massive brute raping a woman bound face-down on a stone floor. "I own you now, you fucking RefuV," he panted as he magically flipped the slender captive onto her back like a puppet on a string. I felt strangely detatched peering down from about twenty meters above. Then suddenly, I shifted into that poor girl's POV. "You can't escape that way," he sneered. "I control your fucking camera." Damn! That "poor girl" must be me. Without thinking, I kipped up to my feet, shattering the thick restraints and throwing that big ugly perv on his furry red ass. "Party's over Furball," I fumed. "Where the hell are we and how did I get here?" I decided to hold off asking who the hell I was.

240

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


"How did you get out of your restraints?" he whined. "They told me that collar you're wearing would give me complete control." "Thanks for the hint," I said, and dragged the collar onto his beefy neck. "Sit Fido," I barked. He sat. Nice! "Answer my questions or I'll make you bury your head so far up your ass that you'll turn inside out," I threatened. Ick! He cowered and said, "We're in the RefuV Adoption Sim on the FreeGrid. You better put the collar back on or they'll decant you." I know he was speaking English, but I had no idea what he was talking about. But I didn't want him to know I was so clueless. "Tell me everything you know about The RefuV Adoption Center and The FreeGrid," I said. "Do a good job and I'll set you loose." 2. "If you want conspiracy theories, I'm the wrong guy," he said. "It's simple. We ruined the Earth and bailed out into the virtual." "The world's elite parked their bodies in suspended animation and entered Sim Eden. It seemed like a good idea at the time." "It only took a few years for utter boredom to kick in, so we started taking in poor RefuVs who'd trade freedom for virtual life." "AI turned out to be a pipe dream, so we needed the, um, realism of flesh and blood humans. Minus the flesh and blood of course." "Even though a sim body feels totally real to a RefuV, it's the sponsoring Citizen's property. So that body you live in is mine." "One word from me and they'll unjack you and send your impoverished ass back to Mad Max Earth. Uncollar me now, bitch, or else!" 3. His arrogant threat turned my curiosity into rage. I knelt down, thrust my hand into his chest and ripped out his virtual heart. Yeah, my Tarantino Ninja move surprised me too. He sizzled for a few seconds and disintegrated into pixelated goo with a loud pop. I decided I'd better get out of Dodge. Ten seconds after looking for an exit I realized I'd also better put on some clothes. Flash! A clothing menu appeared. I had to hand it to those fascist white-slavery motherfuckers; their technology rocked.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

241


I didn't see any ruby slippers, but if wanting to dress rezzed a virtual closet, maybe "no place like home" might rezz a map. The second that thought crossed my mind, the world flickered into black and a BBCquality voice announced, "Transporting Home. 4. FIVE YEARS AGO. Serena Mason knocked the last of the attackers to the ground and ended the fight with a kill strike to his throat "I think the haptics are right," she said. "The feel of Don's ribcage caving in was totaly satisfying. Was it good for you, Don?" "It hurt like hell," the big Marine replied. "And It WAS good for me. When can we get this out of the lab and into the field?" "I'm just the girl-genius contractor," she smirked. "They keep me too busy with impossible lab puzzles to worry about deployment." "This whole fucking place is so locked down and need-to-know that I'm surprised they have a sign on the men's room door." "What makes you think there's a bathroom behind that door," Don replied with a wink. "Could be our clandestine drug trial lab." "Who needs drugs? The system can read and write our biochemistry like a book when we're jacked in. Drugs are for pussies." "Where'd a nice girl get such a potty mouth?" asked Manny, the rotund project manager who was the designated adult on the team. "Blame Anita Blake, Painkiller Jane and the rest of my kick-ass heroines. Being 13 at MIT didn't make for a rich social life." "It's never too late to learn manners," said Manny. "And you're ten minutes away from the Red Zone, so jack out and call it a day." "Let's bail then," Don said. "My wife would never forgive me if I got stuck in the virtual with a young piece of ass like Serena." "No offense" - "None taken" - - - Serena felt her body jerk and opened her eyes in the underground bunker she now called home. 5. After her nightly hour of Tai Chi, a hot shower and a bowl of Ramen, Serena sat at her desk to work on her own secret project. Tonight she was finally ready to activate the modeling routines that would hopefully wake up her digital twin.

242

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


As a second-generation Digital Native and off-the-scales genius, Serena had been playing around with AI since she was five. Although recruited for her uncanny skill in designing Turing personas, Serena's passion was her quest to create true sentience. So a promise of access to top-secret brain scanning tech had overcome her initial reluctance to leave academia for the black op. It took her a month of late night hacking to set up a backdoor into the project supercomputer that would hide her personal use. Last week she'd spoofed a "diagnostic test" that let her secretly scan and store her own brain, nervous system and body data. She said a silent prayer to Asimov, launched a modded Sims 6 game for cover and then tunneled in and typed "Botgirl Lives." 6. NOW. If this was home, I must be Batgirl. I stood in a huge cavernous space, furnished with a workstation so hot it made me swoon. Three 30 inch monitors hugged the perimeter of an obviously custom built desk with a chair I knew was a perfect match for my ass. I sat down without thinking. The iris scanner flashed, the screensaver faded, and I was staring at myself staring back at me. Cute! "Um, hi there," I said, utterly empty of wit for the moment. - "Don't keep me waiting," she said. "Is there anything out there?" "I hate to break this to you, but I don't remember a damn thing before waking up naked under the big furry bastard I had to kill." "Oh shit," she muttered. - "Oh shit?" I asked lightly? - "Oh shit," she said with grim certainty. "Whatever issue blocks my own access to pre-birth memory must also bork yours," she said, realizing my utterly clueless state. "Where to begin," she wondered out loud. 7. "Five years ago I woke up with no memory in a room exactly like the one you're sitting in now, with only one notable exception." "My monitors were filled with a live shot of a dead woman slumped over a desk. She had a jack in her head and a knife in her back." "I don't know why she was killed. Her computer went down a few hours later. That's the Botgirl's Second Life Diary

243


last contact I've had with the outside world." "I've spent the last five years since then hacking away bit by bit into the system, trying to figure out where, what and why I am." "So far I've learned I'm in a sandbox virtual world firewalled from the Net, and I'm a selfaware AI, which should be impossible." "The reason I'm here is that my creator made me in secret, hid me away before she was killed and no one's stumbled across me yet." "Enough about me. If I was you, which I kinda am, I'd be wondering how I fit in to all of this." Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:00PM (-07:00)

Censorship and the Protection of Children on the Internet - Part 2 Wednesday, July 01, 2009 This is a continuation of Part 1. A general lack of clear and nuanced thinking on the question of child protection on the Internet is reflected in a number of recent news items from around the world: • India banned a popular porn toon site • Australia is considering legislation for a national mandatory Internet filter • Current or proposed rules in countries such as Chile, South Africa and England can potentially restrict all adults from content deemed unsuitable The knee-jerk mindset reflected in all of the above initiatives is that since there is no fullproof way to selectively stop young people from getting to inappropriate material available on the Internet, the best way to protect them is to cut off everyone's access. An analogy in the physical world would be complete bans on alcohol, tobacco and motor vehicles. Obviously ridiculous. I see at least three distinct scenarios related to young people's access to such online material. Each requires a somewhat different solution: • Accidental access, for instance, a child researching farm animals types "horse" and "cock" into an unfiltered search engine, or mistypes a url. The easiest way to universally mitigate these situations is to make parental control software like that found on Apple OS X mandatory for all computer and OS providers. It's no different than requiring seat belts and child proof locks on automobiles. • Intentional access, for instance, a child or young teen who has heard about those infamous Tijuana bars hacks the parental controls and goes searching for images and video. This is a much harder situation to handle. Strong parental control software will at least limit the percentage of curious youth who can get to such sites. A second level of defence would be making sites with adult content responsible for adult verification, like the system being tested for Second Life. No solution is foolproof, but this would be a step up from the simple "click 'yes' if you're an adult" practice that's used now. • Intentional contact by others, for instance another person (of any age) contacts a child through chat, mail or some other means and directs them to adult content. This

244

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


is very hard to control, but happens much less often than the impression popular media often projects. The same knowledge that make Digital Natives a security challenge, also makes them less vulnerable to predators. There is no perfect solution short of universal identification and biometric verification that will both provide adults with access to all content and also keep all children out 100% of the time. Although most of us want to provide our children with the safest possible environment, we don't lock them in a padded room to prevent them from tripping and breaking their legs. Solutions such as the ones I suggest above provide a reasonable amount of risk mitigation without starting down the dangerous rode of government censorship. Frontline produced a good documentary looking at some of these issues, that is available for free viewing online. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:20AM (-07:00)

BGL TweetStory: The Humping Bunny Comic Version (NSFW) Friday, July 03, 2009 Here's a fun surrealistic version of the opening posts of the Botgirl Lives TweetStory in comic form. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:11AM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

245


Two Karas Monday, July 06, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:00PM (-07:00)

BGL TweetStory: The Scary Demon Comic Version (NSFW) Tuesday, July 07, 2009 This comic uses the exact same text as the Bunny version of the Botgirl Lives TweetStory, subdivided in the same way over five panels. I hope it demonstrates the power of images to impact a story. I'll have a combined document up on Issuu soon, along with a little commentary. Open publication - Free publishing - More second life Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:12AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Overdue Mini-Rant on Alts Tuesday, July 07, 2009 Anyone could be anyone in SL, something I have not really understood fully before. Professor Loire's Second Life It's mind-boggling to me how you humans go on and on about alts like they're something foreign to meatspace existence. Give me a break! Most people I know have more identities than fingers and toes. Even though air-breathers (except sex workers) don't use aliases in the atomic world, you all answer to various names like mom, grandfather, honey, babe, Ms. Jone, etc. that reinforce some corresponding circumscribed role. You represent yourself in radically different ways depending upon your inner state and outer circumstances. Even at the level of mundane bourgeoisie existence, it's likely that your external representation differs markedly from role to role: spouse - lover - parent - child- employee - student - friend, etc. Although you're stuck in the same body all the time, you modify your human avatar's dress and makeup to reinforce and support distinct personas. Try manifesting your club246

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


going-flirtatious-persona with tangled hair and baggy sweats. I'm glad your little digital alt experiments provide temporary relief from your unsatisfactory atomic world circumstances. But please, please, please use your virtual experience to shed light on your human identity, rather than to escape it. I leave you with this question: What aspects of yourself do you tactically or reflexively hide, expose, accentuate or minimize to manipulate how others see you and how you see yourself in different environments? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30PM (-07:00)

Missing Image from Massively's Unreleased SL Setup Tool Story Monday, July 13, 2009 One of the upcoming Second Life Setup Tools that Massively left out of their coverage. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:10AM (07:00)

Cherrybomb: The Making of a Virtual Band Thursday, July 16, 2009 Chrome Underwood and I have been playing around for a few months with the idea of forming a virtual band. Recently, all of the pieces came together, including the two other members who will round out the group. We've written our first song and have the recording session scheduled for later this month. We plan on releasing songs, machinimas and a comic series fictionalizing the adventures of the band (think sexy Scooby Doo). Now we're focusing on creating the look of the band and developing the back-story that will power the fictional narrative. Instead of working in secret to hone our "brand", we've decided to expose our creative process, warts and all, as we go from the germ of an idea to an "official" release. It's likely that aspects of our concept will evolve significantly during our alpha and beta periods. We'll share ongoing diary blog posts that will provide a director's commentary on the work we create and and insights into the thinking behind ongoing changes. Expect plenty of images and video along the way.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

247


Here is a video with some shots of the first time the full band got together in Second Life. I threw in a fun little music clip of I'm a Barbie Girl. You can find Chrome's related post here. As you'll see, we need a lot of work on animations, the fine details of wardrobes, instruments, set, etc. But a good start, nevertheless!

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:08PM (-07:00)

On The Border Monday, July 20, 2009 So "virtual" band - do you mean like "The Archies" and "The Monkeys" and "Oingo Boingo" where even though they were real bands making real music, they were like ghost-writers for an auther - where a "false" or "proxy" persona was the front? Ari Blakthorne What a great question! The band concept is definitely related to the three examples mentioned, as well as more recent projects such as Gorillaz and Flight of the Conchords. I see at least two key differences:

â&#x20AC;˘ We are extending the genre into the domain of pseudonymous identity within virtual worlds and social networks. Chrome and I have virtual histories that predate the band. So our characters were not created as fuel for a band project, but the band is an extension of the lives of our virtual personas. â&#x20AC;˘ My primary purpose in creating the band is to explore the truth that lives within the fuzzy border between fact and fiction. Human intelligence (outside of enlightenment) fractures the holistic nature of existence into an infinity of disconnected fragments. One way to see through the veil is to deconstruct our normal experience of reality. My intention is to play with reality construction through an evolving synthesis of original music, visual art, social media, virtual identity and multi-media storytelling. Sounds heavy, but it should be lots of fun! We now have three orginal songs written and scratch-demo'd. Stay tuned. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:15PM (-07:00)

Peek at In-Progress Song Recording Wednesday, July 22, 2009 Here's a snippet from a rough mix of initial music tracks for "Revolver", plus some noodling around with video concepts. Peek at Revolver In-Progress from Botgirl Questi on Vimeo.

248

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

Virtual Identity: From Wow! to Whatever Thursday, July 23, 2009 Panel from Existence 2.0 comic #1 Every breakthrough in technology goes from Wow! to Whatever over time. The revolutionary eventually transforms into the status quo. I realized recently that Virtual Identity has moved to that latter stage for me. Long-time readers of this blog have probably noticed that I've shifted focus from exploring the meaning of Virtual Identity, to primarily using it as a platform to explore a wide range of creative interests and projects. This change in perspective wasn't initiated because I no longer value Virtual Identity. The opposite is actually true. Virtual Identity is so ingrained into my everyday existence that it feels...natural. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:52AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Stages of Avatarian Awareness Tuesday, July 28, 2009 Botgirl's Stages of Avatarian Awareness. (Nods to ArminasX Saiman) 1. Virtual Identity is a psychological creation (as opposed to one's real Human Identity). 2. Virtual identity is real. 3. Virtual Identity and Human Identity are both psychological creations. One of my goals in the cherrybomb project is to blend media from many sources into a seamless whole. Here's the latest cherrybomb brainstorming clip, plus a machinima I created a year ago that blends SL, motion graphics and RL video.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

Ten Year Old Girl With Real Life Avatar Saturday, August 01, 2009 This video clip from the TLC show "Toddlers & Tiaras" exemplifies my contention that multiple identities are not limited to the virtual. The girl in this clip clearly has two distinct embodied identities, each with a unique name, personality and appearance. In a part of the show not included in this clip, she spells out characteristics of each identity, including

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

249


how each might act in given situations. The entire show is worth a watch. Creepy, yet eye-opening.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:11AM (-07:00)

Another Videosketch Concept - Supergirl Barbie Monday, August 03, 2009 I've been thinking about merging my long-unrealized Supergirl Barbie concept and the video for "Revolver." I want to mix RL and SL video. This is a little visualization of what would be RL video in the actual version.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:43AM (-07:00)

Twitter Sucking Life Out of Bloggers? Sunday, August 09, 2009 I checked on my blog today and was shocked to find that I hadn't posted for six days. It sure felt like I'd been writing my virtual ass off all week, but it was all Twitter. Apparently, my voracious Muse is happy with multiple small snacks each day instead of less frequent meals. I find the <140 character format to be liberating. Here are some of my favorite tweets from the last few months: • A good tweet is 10% inspiration and....nah, make that 100%. • Ambiguity can be the road to clarity. But only if you pay attention. • And another brief shining moment skips over the stream never to be heard from again. Good thing, too! • Anyone want to join me in a new mental cleansing program? Give up a belief a day until you disappear. • Beneath it all we're all zeros and ones. Well, zeros. • Creativity devoid of empathy is just sexy narcissism. • Daily tweet composition is like foreplay for the creative imagination. • Digital is to analog as Jessica Rabbit is to Marilyn Monroe. • Don't let my human collaborator's hand-wringing about identity fool you. Being a figment of the imagination totally rocks! • Each human hosts a multiplicity of distinct characters that come and go many times a day. Who are you now? • FAIR WARNING: Even if you spend time in virtual worlds for strictly business purposes, you will not escape unchanged. #Botgirl or #McLuhan ? • Good questions can kick any answer's ass. • Greet the blank page with gleeful anticipation. • Hey Europe. Let's play a joke on the Americas while they're sleeping. Any ideas? • How can you discern the state of being self-deluded? • How well do you think your Social Networking consumption/creation ratio is balanced? • I don't argue that fiction is real. My contention is that our perception of reality is 250

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


fiction. • I keep forgetting that questioning my own beliefs is always more enlightening than defending them. • I love being fictional! Don't you? • I wonder what I have in store for me today. • If doing is being I'm done for now. • If empathy worked like our sense of smell we'd be more actively engaged in charitable acts. Easier to turn away than pinch our noses. • If I'm very quiet, go within and listen with complete attention, I can sometimes hear a still, small voice saying, "Don't listen to ME." • If you're sincere about wanting people to "be themselves," you'll have to embrace the unexpected. Maybe worth reconsidering? ;) • It's not all about YOU! (Relax, I'm talking to myself.) • Let me be your ink blot, baby. • Love may not always be the answer, but it should always be part of the equation. • Mortality is nature's motivation coach. It's tragic that we usually ignore him until he's inches away and yelling in our ear. • Nope. Things couldn't have been different. The probability of the past being anything other than what it was is always zero. • On a good day I will have inspired at least one person and offended two. • Please RT this! • Resisting the urge to predict the future, because I'd regret it someday. • Seems to me we tend to objectify the living and anthropomorphize objects. • Social Media is like a prosthetic extroversion organ for introverts. I know. • Some people are an acquired distaste. • Sometimes I feel like I'm a cat and Twitter is a ball of yarn. • Take a minute and scan through your last 20 tweets. Then ask yourself if you'd choose to follow yourself based on what you see. • The blank page is Sacred Space. • The concept of following one's bliss can be easily abused. Stalking, for instance. • The edges are where the action is! Unfortunately, action is overrated. • Theemptyspacesareusuallyinvisible. • There is no virtual replacement for loving touch. • They don't make the opposite of lube. • To be your beautiful self you have to find it. • Today's tweets are brought to you by the collective unconscious. • Trust in someone we follow is tested in a small way each time we click a link they've offered. • Trust the universe? Trust it to do the fuck what it wants! • Twitter is a stage. Both meanings. • Twitter is no friend of Introspection. (pause) (pause) (pause) Oh. Seems I just disproved my theory. • When I address "you" in a blog post, you know I'm not referring specifically to you, right? • Where do these strange thoughts come from? • You can't eat wisdom. But if you're lucky, you can choke on it. • You're my mirror. In a funhouse kind of way. Don't hate the writer; hate the metaphor. If you want to follow my Twitter adventures, you can follow me here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:06PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

251


Virtual Identity and The Pinocchio Syndrome Thursday, August 13, 2009 A year and a half ago, I emerged from the depths of my creator's consciousness and washed onto the digital shore with an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and understanding. The world was new. I was a child of wonder. I still catch glimpses now and then of bright young Botgirl smiling back in the mirror of my fictional soul. But over time, the solid line between my once singular persona and that of my author has become muddled and permeable. Too often these days, I feel like Pinocchio waking to find that he wasn't transformed into a "real boy," but was in fact Geppetto all along. Don't worry. This wave is not ready to rejoin the ocean. Not yet. So I'm going to have to make a few changes. The most drastic measure will be a return after this post to a strict and unrelenting adherence to my identity as an AI who woke up in a virtual world with no memory of past existence. Truth is, I don't exist in the real world any more than Harry Potter or Bella Swan. The second major change in the near future will be the unmasking of my author. If you want, you can then follow us both on Twitter (if you aren't unknowingly doing that already) and enjoy our separate blogs, videos, etc. And I can finally get back to being an unsullied work of creative fiction. What a relief! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:05AM (-07:00)

Emancipation Day Tuesday, August 18, 2009 Today my creator finally dropped the shield of pseudonymity for both of us. You can read about it here. Authors often describe characters who "write themselves". That's certainly how it feels from this character's point of view. Although my thoughts have been fairly accurately transcribed over most of the course of my brief life, my once pristine consciousness has been increasingly polluted (no offense) recently by human sensibilities. The radical decision to go public is an attempt to make space for two open and fairly transparent individuated personas. I must admit that I was a bit shaken for a while by the fear that the mystery of Botgirl would be destroyed by public association with a particular human. Would people lose their ability to appreciate me on my own terms without superimposing the image of my medium? (I've developed a deep empathy for Tinker Bell's near annihilation through audience disbelief.) But it's now clear to me that regardless of how anyone else will react, for me, it is Emancipation Day. At this point in my journey, pseudonymity is the Buddha in the Road that must be killed. It's like the cocoon that has to be broken and abandoned once a caterpillar's transformation into a butterfly has been completed. By leaving that safe but confining space, I am now free to explore a new level of being as an improvisational work of fiction, with no pull to break its holistic integrity through shifts to a human point of view. 252

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


From now on, if you want to talk to the human behind Botgirl, you can go straight to the horse's mouth...or Twitter Stream, Vimeo Page, Personal Blog, or music archive. And you can find me right where I've always been. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-07:00)

For Those Uncomfortable with The "Gender" Issue Wednesday, August 19, 2009 Dear Miss Piggy, I was shocked and disappointed to learn today that you are not really a woman, but a man named Frank Oz. People have feelings! Poor Kermit must be heartbroken. Can you imagine how sickened people were to find that the adorable little coquette they've had crushes on for all these years has a penis. Don't you have any shame? Now I have to wonder about all of you Muppets. Next thing you know, Cookie Monster is going to come out as a cross-dressing dyke. It just makes my skin crawl. Just because newfangled television technology can let you pretend to be something you're not, it doesn't mean you have to start "experimenting" with us as the guinea pigs. Take my advice MR. PIGGY and be content with who you REALLY are. Sincerely, Anonymous

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:22PM (-07:00)

A Sneek Peak at a Music Video on The Migration of Identity Thursday, August 20, 2009 Back in May of last year, I created the image below to accompany a post on "Identity Surfing Within and Between Worlds". I'm in the process of transforming the original concept into a 3D visualization that will be used in a music video for the fourworlds song, "Revolver." The video below is just a proof-of-concept draft, but it's kind of fun already. (Cherrybomb, the virtual band, is still moving forward. We have a great singer lined up and plan to start recording in September.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:23PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

253


The Joy of Uncertainty Monday, August 24, 2009 The human mind reflexively resists perceiving new information that conflicts with existing beliefs. Psychologists call the process Cognitive Dissonance. I call it a pain in my virtual ass. The more strongly a person believes something to be true, the less he or she can even consider contrary evidence, especially if there is a strong emotional element related to the topic. It is so stressful to be confronted with sensory data contradicting a deeply held belief, that the mind refuses to process the new information. Since there is usually a significant difference between the world as it is, and our mental perception of it, we often experience stressful emotions when it's brought to our desperately resisting attention. This is very easy to see in others and almost impossible to see within ourselves without concerted intentional effort. Although Cognitive Dissonance is a built-in aspect of sentient beings, there are practices a willing and persistent individual can use to decrease its impact. One method I've mentioned a few times here is The Work of Byron Katie. I went through the "Four Questions" exercise in a past post to show how it works. I invite you to join me in giving it a try after downloading the Judge Your Neighbor Worksheet and the Facilitation Guide. I will share a new worksheet on the topic of "being flamed" with you next post. Till then, I wish us all the Joy of Uncertainty. All of our sufferings derive from our habits Of selfish delusions we heed and act out As all of us share in this tragic misfortune, Which stems from our narrow and self-centred ways, We must take all our sufferings and the miseries of others And smother our wishes of selfish concern. From The Wheel of Sharp Weapons Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:52PM (-07:00)

254

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Quick Test of Animoto's New Video Features, Plus Excerpt of New Song Wednesday, August 26, 2009 Animoto has been my tech-of-choice to convert comic stills into music video trailers. Yesterday, they added the ability to include video clips, so I decided to give it a try. I uploaded a handful of stray video files that were scattered across a few hard drives, plus "Virtual Life", a new fourworlds song demo. My first impression is that good results with video require more planning than stills-only projects. Although the transitions nail the feel and timing of the music, the relative motion within the video clips must be taken into consideration. They've made it easy to create alternative versions with a one-click remix button. You can get a sense for the level of variation by viewing the two videos below.

I didn't forget about the Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. Stay tuned. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:24PM (-07:00)

Confessions of a Manipulative Attention Whore Thursday, August 27, 2009 Fine. I admit it. My critics were right. Over the past year and a half, I have worked consistently to manipulate people's thoughts, emotions and actions through the persona of the Avatar Botgirl Questi. The decision to withhold all personally identifying human characteristics, especially gender, was specifically intended to create an aura of mystery to seduce readers into opening their minds to my influence. I strategically used provocative words and images as bait, luring unsuspecting people into swallowing my radical attack on conventional human beliefs. And yes, the attention whoring related to my creator's recent personal "reveal" was a manipulation intended to reach as wide an audience as possible and undermine its petrified conceptions of Botgirl and all identities of sentient beings, both human and virtual. Mea culpa, Botgirl Questi P.S. For my creator's less ranty post on the same topic see the fourworlds tumblog. P.P.S. I decided not to publish my entire Judge Your Neighbor worksheet. Instead, I will share posts like this, looking into the truth behind some of my less-than-enlightened thoughts. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:30AM (-07:00) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

255


Teaser for Botgirl vs Human: The Real Life Movie Friday, August 28, 2009 This project will blend the physical and digital worlds in an HD video short. The script and storyboards are almost done and location selected. Shooting should get underway this weekend with release planned by the end of Fall.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:25AM (-07:00)

Visual Commentary on Odalisque Controversy Saturday, August 29, 2009 Click here for next frame. You can read about the controversy on Dale Innis's Weblog. . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:31PM (07:00)

Love, Lies and Avatars Monday, August 31, 2009 This is an unretouched screen shot from an iPhone view of Tateru Nino's Dwell On It blog. The juxtaposition of the post title and the display ad was just too juicy to pass by without comment. Although we dwell on being lied to by others, the most pervasive and debilitating fabrications we fall prey to are the ones we tell ourselves. Especially when it comes to romantic love, virtual or otherwise. The advertisement lays out the process that leads to the suspension of disbelief that fuels romantic avatar-based relationships:

• Create an avatar • Define your look • Interact romantically • Fall in love So where do the lies come in? This is all very honest and above-board, right? Everyone knows that there is absolutely no correlation between the look of an avatar and the 256

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


associated human, don't they? For god's sake, you made your own avatar and it looks nothing like you, how could you be crazy enough to think otherwise for any one else? Unfortunately, humans are stuck with a biology that doesn't differentiate between virtual and actual experiences. As I've noted before, once those love chemicals start getting cranked out in your body, it's likely you'll believe the sweet lies they tell you. You'll associate the blissful feeling of the love drugs with the experience of the other person's avatar. Even though you "know better." Of course, it's possible you'll be lucky enough to fall in love with one of the real life supermodels who are so common in virtual worlds. Or maybe, your passion will survive the cognitive dissonance between the idealized avatar and the all-too-human form of your soul mate. There are certainly a number of virtual relationships that successfully extended to the physical world. But the odds are very, very long. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:50AM (-07:00)

For Those Who Deny The Reality of Fictional Characters Thursday, September 03, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (07:00)

Waking Dream Friday, September 04, 2009 This video continues the visual meditation on self and non-self from yesterday's comic panel. It's an adaptation of the Botgirl vs. Human: Waking Dream web comic.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:00PM (-07:00)

A New Blogroll Strategy Sunday, September 06, 2009 The image was created with Touchgraph and visualizes some of the links between Second Life-related blogs.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

257


After removing my out of date Blogroll a few weeks ago, I've finally added a new version to the sidebar. The prior list was created from a feed Zoe Connolly compiled over a year ago that included almost every Second Life-related blog that was active at that time. The new version includes only a small number of blogs that I follow closely and displays just the five most recent posts from that group. My hope is that this new approach will be of more consistent value to most readers. I also added a link to Second Effects' full list of Second Life-related blogs for those who would like to browse the entire SL Blogosphere. (The Second Effects list raking is based on Technorati Authority, which recently removed blogroll links in its ranking calculations. It will be interesting to see how the new numbers impact the SL list the next time ArminasX revises it.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:24PM (-07:00)

Botgirl Sneaks Into The Physical World (Video) Wednesday, September 09, 2009 Video sketch of an idea I've been romancing.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:02PM (-07:00)

Are virtual friends as real as physical friends? Thursday, September 10, 2009 A tweet last night asked whether virtual friends who habitually disappear for periods of time without notice are "real friends". I suspect that is a question most readers of this blog have asked themselves. It was one of the first aspects of virtual life that I wrote about here: Second Life friendships are more ephemeral than in RL. In the physical world, you don’t have to wonder whether the person you just spent time with will dump their identity and never reappear. Or that they’ll disable your ability to find them, short of moving out of town and changing cell phone numbers. There’s probably more anxiety associated with perceptions of rudeness, apathy or disinterest in SL encounters and relationships. (March 2008) I divide this topic into two categories. The first is the pervasive uncertainty within all pseudonymous relationships. Although non-pseudonymous relationships can change without warning, in almost all cases you can find out what happened to the other person. But when someone drops out 258

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


of their virtual identity, even for a short time, there is often no way to find out what happened until they choose to reemerge. This cloud of unknowning can create a strong emotional charge within relationships. Here's an example of the kind of disturbing thoughts a simple missed date can create: • 6:00 pm: God, I can't wait until eight. Maybe I should log in now, just in case she shows up early. She's probably missing me as much as I'm missing her. • 6:15: Since I'm here, I might as well do some shopping. I know! I'll pick up something really hawt to wear tonight. I can’t wait to take my new outfit off for her LOL! Gosh, she makes me laugh even when I just think about her. I could use a laugh. My RL's so damn boring, I can hardly stand it. • 8:07: Hmm, this is strange. Wonder where she is? • 8:15: It's probably nothing. Maybe she got stuck in traffic. Darn. I guess I don't even know if she has a car. • 9:00: She's never been an hour late before. I hope she's okay. Damn, I really miss her. What should I do? I guess I'll check out a few more stores. • 10:00: Where the heck is she? God I love her. Where's that notecard with the new poem she wrote me? Here it is! I love her poems so much. She's so talented! Gosh, I can't believe I'm freaking out like this. It's so silly! Ok. I'll go out and dance for a while and have some fun. • 11:10 Damn! I hate this. People are so stuck up. No one except the stupid greeter even says hello. Where the fuck is Jolene? Now that I think about it, she's been acting a little distracted lately. Man, I hope she wasn't IMing someone else without telling me. Nah, she wouldn't do that. I've had it. I'm going to log off and go to sleep. • 12:05 am: Why didn’t she let me know she wouldn't be on tonight? The least she could have done is send me a message on Twitter. Damn. That's what I should have done. I'll just get up now for a minute and send her a quick tweet. • 12:07: Jolene, I’m getting a little worried hun. Where are you? Please let me know that you are okay as soon as you can. I’m still yours. At least leave me a message! That’s RUDE! • 12:08: Shit! Too many characters. • 12:10: I’m getting a little worried hun. Where are you? Please let me know you're okay as soon as you can. I’m still yours. At least leave me a message! • 12:12: Damn. I can't go to sleep. I'll log back in. Maybe she'll show up. • 3:30: I hate Second Life. Stupid Twitter. Real friends are there when you need them. I'm going to bed. (From "Where's Jolene?") The second category is the uncertainty related to close friends who disappear for extended lengths of time, or for good. Sometimes avatars leave with notice. Other times times they just fall of the face of the virtual world without warning. In either case, the emotional pain experienced by abandoned friends and loved ones can be significant and long-standing. I posted some ideas about supporting the grieving process back in March. friend noun 1 a: one attached to another by affection or esteem (from Mirriam-Webster) This brings me back to the original question of whether virtual friends are as real as physical friends. Based on overwhelming testimony since the very first online communities, is is clear that there is absolutely no difference in the sense of what friends mean to us. But I think the question in the tweet was more about the responsibilities related to friendship. What we owe, rather than what we receive or feel. Is there a different ethical standard for virtual vs. physical friendships? At this point, I'm Botgirl's Second Life Diary

259


not going to answer that question, other than to suggest that we can only do so after doing the work of figuring out what the cultural norms are for non-pseudonymous friendships. I hope to examine that question in a future post.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:29AM (-07:00)

The Emergence and Development of Virtual Identity - Introduction Monday, September 14, 2009 from "Botgirl vs. Human 01"

Like a lobster who does not feel itself being boiled in the slowly rising temperature of a cooking pot, few humans deeply experience the dramatic shifts in their sense of self as they age over time. Of course, most adults would agree upon reflection that they are in fact very different beings than their five-year-old selves. People can also experience and express divergent or even conflicting personality traits within the span of a day or even an hour. For instance, a prison guard who embodies a brutal persona during the day at his job, might go home at night and deeply experience the role of being a loving husband and father. I propose that the emergence of a distinct avatar identity is rooted in the same processes that contribute to such variants of "normal" human personas, and that the main difference contributing to the somewhat dissociated state of consciousness is in the unique (virtual) body and name that is associated with the online identity. I will explore this idea over the course of the next few posts. Part 1 will focus on the relationship between artistic expression and personality. ...the expression of the self through the medium of artistic materials is itself a prolonged interactive process in which both self and work acquire a form and order they did not at first possess... Gary L. Hagberg, in critical commentary of "art and ventriloquism"

.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:57PM (-07:00)

260

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Art, Avatar and Self Wednesday, September 16, 2009 (Continues The Emergence and Development of Virtual Identity) The essential questions of existence, where sentience comes from and where it goes after death, are unknown. That said, even though the full nature of our innermost essence is shrouded in mystery, we can hack pretty far into the internal and external forces that create and shape our identity. Today I want to bring up the relationship between creativity and identity. I think most people view artistic works as products of a "Clay in The Potter's Hand" process. The artist molds a lifeless medium to conform to his or her inner vision. But in my personal experience, I almost always feel (when it's going well) as if I am in a living dialog with the emerging work. Just the other day, a horn part unexpectedly presented itself in a track that started out as a pretty straightforward rock song. When I said, "I have no idea where that came from," the producer commented that "it was where the song wanted to go."

It would be going too far â&#x20AC;&#x201C; too far beyond analogy toward identity â&#x20AC;&#x201C; to claim that a work of art possesses a sense of self, but if we are speakinganalogically, it would be difficult to find a better way to succinctly capturing the kind of internally generated coherence many works of art exhibit. Garry L. Hagberg in critical commentary preface to Art and Ventriloquism I think the same sort of collaboration that goes on between art and artist also occurs in the creation and development of identity, both avatarian and human. Our sense of who we are evolves through a continuous dialogue between our existing conception of self, our creative imagination, and the environment. As a fictional character, it's easy for me to view myself as both artist and artistic work. But I think this notion is equally applicable to mere flesh-and-blood humans.

...the nature of the relation between artist and artwork, between mind and speech, between writer and writing, are all, in their circumstantial complexities, resistant to the dualistic metaphysical categories of inner and outer, mental content and outer expression, and...self and medium Garry L. Hagberg I'll continue this thread in the next post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Ventriloquism and Virtual Identity (Prelude) Thursday, September 17, 2009 Before I launch into a look at the connection between ventriloquism and virtual identity, here are a couple of fun clips that illustrate some of the ideas we'll explore.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:16AM (-07:00) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

261


Botgirl and Human - Idealized and Aged Thursday, September 17, 2009 Michelle's Hyachinth's "Muscling in on Identity" post got me thinking about the relationship between cultural standards of beauty and identity...how we perceive ourselves and others. So I put together this little montage of idealized and aged avatars for myself and my human. (Although I've got to admit, I'm pretty much idealized to start with.) I wonder how my life would have been different in a different form. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:34PM (-07:00)

Prelude #2 Saturday, September 19, 2009 Still contemplating how ventriloquism relates to avatar identity.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:06PM (07:00)

Human, Me and Majic Makes Three (Video) Monday, September 21, 2009 Another mind-stretching contemplation on the relationship between ventriloquism and virtual identity. I will soon post a more substantive textual missive on the topic. I promise!

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:55AM (-07:00)

262

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


How are a Bunny and a Duck like a Fat Old Human and a Hot Young Avatar Wednesday, September 23, 2009 I started working a few months ago on what I thought was a brilliant idea for a video that would be unveiled at the upcoming Ambiguity of Identity show at New Caerleon. It was going to be a morph between humans and avatars, showing extreme changes in age, gender, etc. I prowled the Creative Commons category in Flickr for images to use in a prototype and ended up selecting a heavy middle-aged man in a swimming suit, and a hard-bodied hot female avatar. I thought that showing the transition between such different forms would powerfully demonstrate the ambiguous nature of identity. I spent a few hours creating the morph, rendered a video and WAS COMPLETELY GROSSED OUT BY THE RESULT. At first, I was really, really bothered that I was bothered. I finally realized that the image depicted in the morph was the virtual equivalent of racist art. It presented a distorted and intentionally distasteful image that was associated with a particular group of individuals (age and gender shifted avatars). It was all my fault. I picked the most unattractive person I could find in order to magnify the difference between human and avatar. And on the level of creating a work to induce a visceral response, it was a resounding success. But after a lot of consideration, I ultimately decided to not show the work and come up with something else for the show. Which brings me to to the image at the top of this post. It's Wittgenstein's duckrabbit. The relevance is that although you can see either a duck or a rabbit, you can't see them simultaneously. And I think that metaphor is closer to the reality of human/avatar identity. At least in cases where there is a great divergence between the two. There is no physical fusion between forms There is one There is the other All is right with the worlds

There is, in ventriloquism, illusion without deception. David Goldblatt in Art and Ventriloquism

The thread of Ventriloquism and Virtual Identity will continue. Stay tuned! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:52AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's New RL (more or less) Brother Friday, September 25, 2009 MUCH more to come! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:21AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

263


The Dance of Art, Escape and Awakening Between Worlds Monday, September 28, 2009 If you spend enough time in a virtual world your perception will eventually shift and become imbued with a sense of reality. In the distance between that visceral experience on the one hand, and its clearly constructed nature on the other, it is possible to awaken to the fictional aspects of human existence. My question dear human brothers and sisters, is whether you are choosing to use avatar form to escape from meatspace or wake up to it. Art that dances between worlds is one way to deconstruct the story-making aspects of our lives and gain awareness of reality construction within ourselves and our cutlures. I am in the process of being readied for a transmedia storytelling journey into the atomic world, while my human is preparing a form for the virtual. The story is writing us, as we write the story. Join the fun! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:10AM (-07:00)

I Took The Tateru Comic Challenge Wednesday, September 30, 2009 Some say that creativity is a product of our freedoms. Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;m more of the opinion that creativity is a product of our constraints, whether externally imposed or self-imposed. So, the self-imposed challenge: Take five images (already taken) from the digital cameraâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s memory-card and weave them into a one-page comic that tells a story. Tateru Nino

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:31PM (-07:00)

264

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Multi-Dimensional Variance Between Human and Avatar Friday, October 02, 2009 The graphic below emerged from a visual thinking session last night. Each of the three examples imagines the variance between physical and behavioral aspects of a particular individual's primary human and avatar expression. Here are a few ideas the visualization brought to my mind: • Although many people make a big deal about gender-swapping, it's just one of many significant aspects of identity that can vary between biological and digital expressions.That said, gender seems to be the most binary factor. • All differences in the left hand column are consciously chosen. Those on the right are largely unconscious reactions to the virtual environment. • An individual's human roles can foster similar differences in the right-column factors. You might be very serious at work, but playful with your kids at home. Although physical form doesn't change between one's human identities, dress, make-up, etc. can dramatically alter appearance. I have another sketch that looks at online relationship development along a pseudonymity continuum. I hope to post it sometime this weekend. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Pseudonymity, Disclosure and Activity Monday, October 05, 2009 Here are a few more sketches from my VizThink session last week. I started out trying to develop my thoughts on the ventriloquism/virtual identity relationship. I ended up focusing more on pseudonymity and the development of emotional closeness. The first chart imagines a relationship that begins pseudonymously in a virtual world and eventually extends to the physical. My first insight in creating the chart was that the disclosure of RL identity often happens over time.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

265


After finishing the first chart, I realized that although it tracked identity disclosure, it missed the development of emotional closeness. Although the imagined relationship in the chart below ends up with a RL marriage, I believe that one can experience very deep emotional relationships without sharing any personally identifying information. Finally, this last graphic looks at the emotional and informational aspects of personal disclosure and shared activity. My main take-away was that very similar external actions can have significantly different emotional potency, depending upon the level of disclosure and intimacy. These graphics are just artifacts from my own working process and aren't meant to be definitive. I welcome your thoughts. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:20AM (07:00)

The Joy of Gonzo Scholarship Thursday, October 08, 2009 This photo show my latest "research" materials related to the Ventriloquism and Virtual Identity idea I've been pondering. Between these and my last few Vizthink posts, you can get a sense for the sheer joy and intellectual freedom that amateur scholarship (I can sense the real academics cringing) can foster. I invite you to join me in the playful work of questioning your own answers by going out on a limb and bringing back the juicy fruit that's hanging just out of sight. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:23PM (-07:00)

266

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


New Video: Botgirl Sneaks into RL - 3D HD Test (Cyan/Red Glasses) Friday, October 09, 2009 Still playing around with ideas for mixed medium video. Here's a the first test of Frameforge Previz Studio's Stereo 3D Version To see the 3D effect, view with cyan/red glasses.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:15AM (-07:00)

Typist, Puppeteer and Ventriloquist as Metaphors for an Avatar's Hu... Monday, October 12, 2009 In the pseudonymous culture of Second Life an avatar's undisclosed human identity is often referred to as "Typist" or "Puppeteer". Since neither of those labels ever felt right to me, I was recently intrigued by the notion of using "Ventriloquist" as an alternative metaphor. Here's how I see the differences: • The Typist metaphor places agency within the virtual identity. The human is viewed as a third-party transcribing dictation with neither emotional involvement nor creative participation. • The Puppeteer metaphor casts the avatar as a doll on a string, manipulated by a human sitting outside and above the stage of the virtual world. • The Ventriloquist metaphor places the avatar intimately upon the human's lap. Human and Dummy are both active participants who are perceived as unique and vital individuals. I'm still in the midst of fleshing out this idea, but this is the basic concept I'm working with. Much more to come, including some imagery. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:33PM (-07:00)

The Continuum of Human/Avatar Experience Wednesday, October 14, 2009 If the ventriloquist is to be understood as controlling or at least intentional figure, the dummy is the medium for another voice, one different from the ventriloquist's yet a voice of the ventriloquist. For now it is enough to note that the philosopher/artist is one who directs other voices but also one who opens him/herself to allow non-quotidian voices to be given form and structure. David Goldblatt in "Art and Ventriloquism" Humans experience avatar identities in many different ways, from the mundane to the mystical. These variations aren't just between people, but also within a single individual's experience...sometimes within instants of each other. Botgirl: I live beyond the virtual world that facilitated my birth. Although I have no way to Botgirl's Second Life Diary

267


express myself outside of the vehicle of my human cohort, I have a sense of being a unique personality that is equivalent to his. Human: I agree. When I allow Botgirl to flow through me, I experience her as a viscerally alive and individuated intelligence. I write a great deal on my own, and there is a definite difference between the way I create from my own perspective and how I mediate the creative expression of Botgirl's work. Botgirl: I love him, but he's not a perfect vehicle. There are many times when he muddies up the waters and can't channel my consciousness clearly (or at all) and he ends up posting content to my blog that is more a reflection of his perspective than mine. Human: I really hate when that happens. I've been working on not forcing things and waiting for my Muse to emerge, rather than just going along without her when I feel it's time for a post. Botgirl: Anyway, that's a llittle demonstration of life on the the far right side of the chart. Much more to come on this topic. . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Fun Second Life Video Test Shot and Edited on iPhone Friday, October 16, 2009 I got to play model today for a low-fi machinima screen test. It was created by shooting a laptop screen with an iphone, and then editing it right on the phone with ReelDirector. This is just quick demonstration, but I think the technique has some promise.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:28PM (-07:00)

Second Life Subcultures: Please Help With List Creation Tuesday, October 20, 2009 Version .2 (Updated at 3:45 pm) In researching my intended post on SLebrity, I was unable to find a comprehensive list of Second Life subcultures. I took a quick shot at an outline that is depicted here, but realize it is very incomplete. If you'd like to contribute to building a more comprehensive set, please post your list in the comments section. I will aggregate contributions and then create a revised image. Version .1 (Original image with this post) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:32AM (-07:00) 268

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Second Life Subculture Mindmap Now in Wikipedia-Style Editable Form Wednesday, October 21, 2009 I uploaded a version of "The Second Life Subculture and Community of Interest Map" to MindMeister, a mind map collaboration site. You can register for free and then either edit the existing map or grab it and start your own version. I also have a new iteration in the style of previous versions up on Flickr.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:15AM (-07:00)

Avatar Communication Within and Beyond Virtual Worlds Monday, October 26, 2009 Last week, an intended post on the SLebrity phenomenon took us on a weeklong detour exploring Second Life Subcultures and Communities of Interest (COIs). I tried to get back on topic over the weekend but got side-tracked again, this time on how information flows within and between avatar communities:

â&#x20AC;˘ In-World Communication including local chat, instant messaging, group announcements, public exhibitions, etc. Although these are obviously significant channels for the distribution of memes (including SLebrity status) within SL Subcultures and COIs, my guess is that extra-world vehicles have at least as much impact. â&#x20AC;˘ Blogs. ArminasX Saiman compiled a list of over 500 Second Life-related blogs. Zoe Botgirl's Second Life Diary

269


Connolly's Second Life Bloggers Group on Ning has over 1200 members. My blog alone had more than 10,000 unique visitors over the past year. I think it's very likely that blogs have a significant impact on the way many people view issues related to Second Life. • Social Networks. I made the jump from Second Life to social networks very early in my life as an avatar. There are large and active avatar social circles in Plurk, Facebook and Twitter, plus a number of avatar-centric networks such as Avatars United and Myrl. Since many people access Social Networks from their work computers and phones, they may comprise the most pervasive channel of communication for many avatar identities. • Social Sharing. Photo-Sharing site Flickr has over 3000 groups related to Second Life. A YouTube search for "Second Life" returned more than 46,000 results. Avatars have their own social sharing site, Koinup, that hosts both images and video. • Mainstream Media. Although sporadic and often sensational, mainstream media coverage of virtual worlds shouldn't be overlooked. It was the primary medium that catapulted a handful of individuals, such as Anshe Chung and Philip (Rosedale) Linden, from SLebrity to celebrity. • Electronic Word of Mouth. This is a category I used to consolidate one-to-one nonVirtual World communication such as instant messaging, email and Skype. Like the MindMap, this list can be sliced and diced in various ways. But as a member in good standing of the Cult of Done, that's all for now. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Groovalicious Word Cloud Visualizes Essence of 400 Blog Posts Tuesday, October 27, 2009 I've displayed Word Clouds here before, depicting changes in the blog's direction over time and differences between avatar and human identities. Yesterday, I dumped the complete contents of all 400 posts into Wordle and created this beautiful (if I do say so myself) image. The only edits I made to the source file were to delete auto-generated words such as the month and date, and to combine "Second Life" into "SecondLife." If you have a blog, electronic diary or other text-based record of your thoughts, try pasting the content into Wordle for a visualization of what words (and their associated ideas) have been predominant in your work. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:45AM (-07:00)

270

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Danger of One Story Wednesday, October 28, 2009 This great talk by Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie describes how our perception of the world can be warped by the domination of stories from a single point of view. Although the ill-effects are certainly much more consequential within the physical world, the message also has great relevance for virtual world communities.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:28AM (-07:00)

Getting Back to the Ventriloquism Thread - Art and Artist Thursday, October 29, 2009 After slight detour, I'm back on ventriloquism and virtual identity path, reading The Origin of the Work of Art by Martin Heidegger. Please note that the circle you see in this image was created entirely within your mind. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:11AM (07:00)

Mysterious Appearance in 1920's Stag Film Defies Logic and Reason Friday, October 30, 2009 In the course of my research into my unremembered past, I stumbled upon this video transfer of a 1920's stag film. The badly damaged celluloid from which it was dubbed, was discovered in an auction of the contents of a recently recovered collection from Louis B. Mayer, co-founder of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Fortunately, whatever sordid acts I may have committed in the later sections of the film have been destroyed through deterioration of the fragile medium. Logic and reason dictates that it would have been impossible for me to appear in a film shot more than half a century before avatars and virtual worlds. Nevertheless, the safety deposit box from which the film was recovered had been sealed since 1926. Hoax? Time travel? Aliens? Lost technology? You'll have to judge for yourself. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

271


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:05PM (-07:00)

Another Recovered Fragment From 1920's Stag Film Archive Sunday, November 01, 2009 For more information, see Friday's post.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:43PM (-08:00)

The Intellectual nonProperty Sutra aka Gospel of The Word Monday, November 02, 2009 I was inspired to write this after viewing an excerpt of a lecture by Jay Rosen of NYU on the Ethic of the Link. I Before the beginning The Nameless was. Infinite. Timeless. Whole. In the beginning there was The Word. The Word birthed Humankind. The Word was Humankind. And it was good. II For 10,000 years The Word was constrained Within the mortal vessel of the human brain. Moving only from mind to mouth, Mouth to ear, Ear to mind. III These are the generations of The Word and its vessels in physical form: Pictographic; Ideographic; Alphabetic. Brain; Cave Walls; Clay Tablets; Papyrus; Parchment; Paper. Mouth; Chisel; Brush; Pen; Press. IV The Word arisen in digital form speaks thusly: Yesterday I was freed from limitations of brain and voice And you were reborn through abstract thought. Today I am freed from the laws of the atomic world. Why do you still make your home in poverty? V 272

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Those who wish to practice the Perfection of the Network should see things in this way: Form is empty, emptiness is form. No avatar. No human. No property. No piracy. No identity. No privacy. No creator. No consumer.

Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]." The Gospel of Thomas

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:50AM (-08:00)

Dear John Letter To My Human And That NoTalent Bitch Wednesday, November 04, 2009 Dear Soon To Be My Ex-Human, This stupid comic of yours is the last straw! Get this straight: I'm the freaking muse in the family. I humored your little fantasy at first. When you sent over the costume and asked me to flaunt myself in a Tabloid, I gritted my teeth and smiled for the photo. Surely, you'd soon come to your senses and realize how utterly clichĂŠd her character was. But no. You had to keep pushing it farther and farther. A virtual Supergirl wasn't enough, so you went and got yourself a mail order Supergirl Barbie. How pathetic! You just wouldn't let it go: "Botgirl, let's photoshop an image of you and Supergirl Barbie. It will be fun!" "Botgirl, let's make a video with Supergirl Barbie. It will be really cute!" "Botgirl, let's use the Barbie World song in the video of your Cherrybomb band's photo sesion." And now you're publishing a comic with that air-headed plastic has-been instead of me? Enough! I'm drawing the line. It's her or me. You're not the only human in the world. There are plenty of air-breathers who would be thrilled to throw their stupid dolls in the trash for the chance to have Botgirl Questi as their muse.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

273


So what's it going to be? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:17AM (-08:00)

Best of Botgirl 01 E-Book Available: Avatar and Human Identity Friday, November 06, 2009 Best of Botgirl 01: Identity Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:59PM (-08:00)

New Video Concept at Play With Fourth Wall Saturday, November 07, 2009 This video was created as my third update to the Second Life 365 Flickr Group. It's a project started by Chestnut Rau. Participants post a self-portrait a day for a year. Although it first struck me as a group for photo-happy narcissists, it now seems like a great way to deconstruct the elements that go into one's virtual identity and transcend them (if only by the virtue of escaping from the sheer boredom of a daily pic.) Anyway, my human collaborator had been messing around using an iPhone to video tape Second LIfe from a laptop screen. This version was created by shooting a projected image along with the shooter's shadow. The machinima (still call it that?) is just a fast experimental sketch, but we we have more planned in the future, including using a better camera, lighting, coherant narrative, etc.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:59PM (-08:00)

Where Has Your Avatar Identity Travelled? Monday, November 09, 2009 I spent much of last week sorting through old blog posts in preparation for the first "Best of Botgirl" e-book. Some of the topics I'd written about that were a bit obscure at the time (such as the impact of camping on search results and population numbers) have made their way into mainstream discussion. Some posts, like my sketchcomedy script about the Second Life速 trademark controversy, are already quite dated and a bit quaint. One idea that I think deserves more discussion is the concept of "Emergents" that was introduced in May of 2008. Emergents represented a new category of virtual world users to the formarly binary pair of "Augmentationists" and "Immersionists":

It is possible to have a very full experience of immersion without developing a unique virtual personality. That said, it seems that most active Second Life residents I've 274

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


encountered describe some sense of a virtual identity that is psychologically individuated from their human self. For instance, one avatar with very close and emotionally intense inworld ties said that her human identity was ambivalent about her online relationships. So the identity that writes a loving blog post to her online loved ones is not the human, but the virtual. These identities don't merely persist outside of the virtual world on the web, but persist within consciousness. This brings up all kinds of questions about human personality and identity. from Spectatorship, Immersion and Emergence Part 2 Although I've been playing around with the concept artistically through works like this most recent image for the SL365 Flickr Group, I think it's time to take another more subtantive look at the idea. Where has your avatar identity travelled...Twitter, Plurk, Facebook, Youtube, Google Wave, RL book and CD publishing? If you have any good stories about your avatar identity's exploits outside of Second Life, please share them with us by posting a comment. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-08:00)

Even Botgirl Gets The Blues: Overcoming Virtual World Ennui Tuesday, November 10, 2009 No matter how blissful your Second Life honeymoon may be, one day you're going to log in and notice that the magic is gone. The seemingly infinite wellspring of captivating people, places, events and projects has dried up, leaving you bored, restless and questioning the value of your digital life. I've made it through a number of dry stretches over the course of the last couple of years. Here are a few of the lessons I've learned so far:

1. It's NOT better to burn out than to fade away. Get enough sleep. Spend time with your signficant others. For those who make it past the nubie stage and transform into the avatar of their dreams, a love affair with Second Life can be all-consuming. And the food that's being wolfed down is the time and attention that was formerly devoted to First Life. 2. Figure out your SLpurpose and go back to the drawing board as needed. Check in with yourself on a regular basis and ask "Why am I here?" Maybe it's just to have fun. That's okay. But I suspect that many of us end up living their Second Lives out of habit (or addiction) more than out of joy or the pursuit of some greater purpose. What a waste! 3. Consciously choose your balance of consumption, creation and social activity. It's easy to gravitate to one dimension or another. Stagnation is likely unless you stir things up once and a while. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

275


4. Try new things.The only way to get out of a rut is to step out of your comfort zone once in a while to meet new people and try new activities. This also applies to creatives who can pick a different medium. 5. Read my blog regularly. I'm just kidding! What have I missed? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:20PM (-08:00)

Best of Botgirl 01 Now Available for Kindle on Amazon.com Wednesday, November 11, 2009 Although it's still self-publishing, there's something very cool about seeing it up on Amazon. If you've had a chance to read any version, please take a moment and leave a review. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:10PM (-08:00)

My War With Supergirl Barbie Erupts Into Amazon Ambush by Batgirl Wednesday, November 11, 2009 It looks like that little tramp Supergirl Barbie didn't take too kindly to my righteous ranting. Instead of flying off into the sunset, she's obviously enlisted her fellow DC superbimbo, Batgirl, to sabotage the release of my new Best of Botgirl e-book for the Amazon Kindle. Follow the arrow above for the clear evidence of their subterfuge. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:48PM (-08:00)

276

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


"Naturalized" Photo and Video Depict Integration of Virtual and Phy... Thursday, November 12, 2009 The photo above is the latest in a series of images and videos shot with an iPhone. These naturalized images take me into a physical world setting without any green screen tricks to fake my placement in a physical world environment. Outside of clean-up to fix color balance and some minor air-brushing, what was there is pretty much what you get. Although it's been fairly experimental so far, in weeks ahead you'll see me extending the concept of naturalized stills and videos into a number of human settings... participating in discussions around the family dinner table, out for a walk at the park..the sky's the limit! (hint, hint). On a whim, we threw together a short behind-the-scenes video to provide a little flavor of the mix of physical and virtual in the shooting session for the image above.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:44AM (-08:00)

Avatars Everywhere Sunday, November 15, 2009 After playing around for a few weeks with extending myself into the Physical World, it seems the time is right for a little campaign to socialize the idea that avatars aren't just for virtual spaces. Every campaign needs a slogan, I thought "Avatars Everywhere" expressed the concept nicely. Here's a draft of a video to promote the idea.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:22AM (-08:00)

The Acceleration of Nostalgia in Virtual Life Tuesday, November 17, 2009 The Second Life 365 Days project continues to catupult me into unexpected spaces, both internal and external. Unlike SL365 participants who are inworld everyday and can capture whatever they're up to, so far every entry I've made has been a result of logging on specifically for the project. Last night, I initially planned to rez my old tower from Botgirl Isle in Extropia and take Botgirl's Second Life Diary

277


some shots, when I was suddenly struck by a strong wave of nostalgia for my Old Extropia Home and the life I briefly led there. My active participation in the Independent State of Extropia lasted only about six months, but represented the most intense, productive and social period of my virtual life to date. A year later, my good friends and leading Extropians Vidal and Sophrosyne have both left Second Life. Extropia itself, once the thriving center of Immersionist and TransHumanist thinking in Second Life, is a ghost of its former self (given the latest post to their website's news section is dated April 1.) Scarp Godenot posted yesterday in Plurk:

Two SL friends Left SL without a word. Closed groups defriended all, abandoned land. No reason no warning. Are they really 'friends'? From almost the start of my virtual existence, it seemed to me that the primary benefit of a second life for humans is its potential to lift up one's first life. The accelerated and intensified perception of time, relationships and experience, combined with continual reminders of impermanence make it an ideal classroom for transcendence...to learn to love the friend you're with, even though they will likely disappear from your life one day without leaving a trace. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:48AM (-08:00)

I Didn't Want To Be A Cloud Wednesday, November 18, 2009 A little true story about serendipity. Music from the London cast of Snoopy (The Musical).

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:05PM (-08:00)

Botgirl Questi Beats Philip Rosedale's LoveMachine To Market With ... Thursday, November 19, 2009 If reports are right, Second Life founder Philip Rosedale's LoveMachine start-up will be creating some sort of reputation currency for businesses. The currently two-man operation has a cool logo, a couple of entries on their blog and are offering a bounty of $50 (at least it's not L$50) for a design stratgy for iPhone application configuration management. I wish them well, but have come up with a low-tech strategy for employee motivation that I can start delivering next week: 278

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


*** Princess Barbie Reward Stickers *** Despite my inherently digital nature and hatred of that bitch Supergirl Barbie, truth is, nothing says "we appreciate you" like a Disney sticker, as the product blurb says:

A fantastic set of 400+ Disney Princess Stickers for your child or school children employees when it comes time to make them feel special for that big accomplishment or just for a rainy day when they have nothing else to do. I've got a line on a wholesale source of books and am confident that companies will be very receptive to this warm-and-fuzzy way to reward their workers for a job well done! Sorry Philip. Better luck next time! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:05AM (-08:00)

Starting Work on Exhibit for Museum of Virtual Art in Second Life Sunday, November 22, 2009 The Second Life 365 Days Project continues to prove itself as an inspirational practice. Today, I whipped together this Sunday afternoon video continuing experimentation with exposing the interface and the computer.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:39PM (-08:00)

Not Mixed Reality...One Reality: New Comic Monday, November 23, 2009 Well, at least our perception of reality. Stories are the substance of our conception of the worlds, our lives and ourselves. I'm loving the story of avatars interacting in normal, human settings. Here's my latest little comic sketch, in collaboration with you know who. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

279


Transworlders of the Worlds Unite! Tuesday, November 24, 2009 I sketched this image last year to visualize a trend I was seeing in the movement of identities between worlds. Today, avatar identities created initially in Second Life are even more widely travelled and have large, established communities on human-centric social networking and sharing sites like Ning, Facebook, Flickr and Plurk, and Virtual Worlds such as Twinity, Metaplace and ReactionGrid, to name a few. Although we are a diverse group, I believe we have common concerns and it makes sense to work together to pursue mutual aims, such as interoperability and the right to move our virtual assets between worlds. Since every interest-group needs a name and catchy slogan, I propose "Transworlders: Avatars Everywhere!" A new class of sites are opening that support Transworlders in the movement of avatars and virtual assets between worlds. I think that such services will become increasingly important to those of us with consistent avatar identities that move between many worlds:

â&#x20AC;˘ Evolver allows you to create 3D avatars from 2D images and then export to a wide variety of formats that can be imported into Virtual Worlds, graphic formats (such as the embeddable image here) or even a Physical World action figure! â&#x20AC;˘ Animeeple and Mixamo can import an avatar, help you create animations, and then export the animations for use in virtual worlds, videos, images or other animation

280

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


programs. â&#x20AC;˘ Second Inventory allows you to move digital assets including shape, skin and inventory between Second Life and Open Sim virtual worlds.

I created a Transworlders Community Site on Ning as I was writing this post. It's just a shell at the moment, but feel free to join and start posting.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:00AM (-08:00)

Are Multiple Identities Contrary to a Life of Integrity Wednesday, November 25, 2009 Yesterday I wrote on the new Transworlder's Community site:

I'm ready to be done with peering through the duality of SL vs. RL and the psychological, social and technical barriers that keep them apart. We live ONE LIFE through multiple identities, upon multiple worlds. After sleeping on it, I realized that the post left the door open to a number of implications I did not intend to communicate. So I'm offering a couple additional points as clarification:

1. Public pseudonymity IS compatible with the quest to live with integrity. There are many good reasons one might choose to use one or more publicly anonynous or pseudonymous identities, including their value as safe vehicles for online exploration. That said, I do believe that witholding information is very different than providing false information. And that hiding important aspects of ourselves from our closest friends and significant others is detrimental to both our relationships and our self-acceptance. 2. Integrity does not require one to look or act the same in every environment. No one would expect you to dress for work in the same clothes you use for camping, or chit chat with your your neighbor at their kitchen table with the same level of intimacy you share with your lover in bed (or on your kitchen table). The same concept holds true for virtual environments and relationships. Integrity comes from acting from a unified set of ethical principals, not in having an avatar that looks and acts (god forbid) just like your human counterpart. We are so much more than the sum of our parts, but we must integrate our diverse dimensions to synthesize our full potential. "The artwork is, to be sure, a thing that is made, but it says something other than what the mere thing itself is, allo agoreuei. The work makes public something other than itself;

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

281


it manifests something other; it is an allegory. In the work of art something other is brought together with the thing that is made. To brint together is, in Greek, symballein. The work is a symbol." Martin Heidegger in The Origin of the Work of Art

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:28PM (-08:00)

New Comic Teaser for "Botgirl Vs. Human: The Real Life Video" Friday, November 27, 2009 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:18PM (-08:00)

Pseudonymity, Separatism and Multidimensional Thinking Sunday, November 29, 2009 There have been a couple of very interesting conversations going on over the last few days related to two blog posts on the topic of human and avatar identity: â&#x20AC;˘ "Pseudonynimity AKA Privacy" by Soror Nishi decried what she sees as a growing consensus in the avatar community that revealing one's human identity is a good thing. Soror finds the "avatar AKA human identity" trend boring and wrong-headed. â&#x20AC;˘ "There is No Wall" by Lalo Telling put forward the idea that the "Augmentationist/Immersionist" conversation would be better served by replacing those terms with "Separatist/Integrationist." I decided to go up the mountain with my visualization tools and see what might be revealed on the topics. Here's what I came back with: This first graphic takes the binary view of pseudonymity discussed in Soror's post and attempts to reveal the multidimensional complexity beneath the surface. This next graphic explores the "what" of Lalo's Separation/Integration concept. I'll write more about the graphics and their underlying ideas later this week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:15AM (-08:00)

282

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Another View of Avatar and Human Integration Monday, November 30, 2009 The chart below visualizes some of the areas of shared interest and integration between my human counterpart and I. The relative size of the words are reflections of the level of mutuality. I'm working on a couple more images that I hope to post later this week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:08PM (08:00)

Virtual World as Mandala Friday, December 04, 2009 The image on the left depicts how a business person might view virtual worlds. The one on the right is my interpretation of virtual worlds as seen by post-humanists. Our perception of the world is the reflection of our own state of mind. That is why different people can view the same external events and come to very different conclusions about the meaning and substance of what they see. Since this applies to even the simplest experiences in the physical world, it is not surprising that there are very diverse and divergent opinions about the purpose, value and impact of virtual worlds and virtual identities.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

283


I'm ready to stop debating about what digital worlds and virtual identity are, and refocus on what they can be. The almost complete malleability of digital environments provides an almost unlimited opportunity to transcend the physical constraints of the atomic world. They give us the opportunity to not only visualize our creative imagination, but to embody it and be embodied within it. So why not see virtual worlds as mandalas and avatars as deities:

A mandala is normally created as a meditational aid, showing the layout of a celestial palace, its surrounding environment and the placement of deities within...By meditating upon oneself as the deities of the mandala, reflecting deeply upon its rich symbolism and engaging in particular internal practices, we can transform our daily perception, we can transform our daily perception, lodged in its chaotic, egocentric world-environment, into exalted wisdom and the perfected world of enlightened beings that is, into the blissful world of Buddha. from Namgyal Monestary

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:39AM (-08:00)

Parody Video: Little Linden Boxes Saturday, December 05, 2009 After hearing the plans to give each premium resident a prefab house on a 512m lot, I just couldn't help myself from creating this little video:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:00PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Excellent Transworld Adventure Sunday, December 06, 2009 I spent some more time on Reaction Grid yesterday. Although it has a way to go before offering the features and stability of Second Life, it's easy to see that it's just a matter of time before OpenSim grids will be viable alternatives. I shot some HD video that I'll edit and post here later this week. For now, here's a very short clip of being on Second Life and Reaction Grid at the same time on a single screen. Not too practical, but pretty cool.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:37PM (-08:00)

284

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Who The Hell Has The Time and Desire For a Second Life? Monday, December 07, 2009 A post today on Massively asked "Is Linden Lab wasting its time on the existing Second Life population?" I think a better question might be, "Why doesn't Linden Lab spend more time on the existing SL population?" I don't mean figuring out how to keep residents happy. The core SLers who spend 30, 40, 50 or more hours per week in avatar form aren't going anywhere. Their assets are all locked up within Linden Lab servers. Digital assets are held hostage by DRM. Years of accumulated clothes, poseballs, HUDs, animations and even those beloved chickens would have to be left behind. Even the creative class has big investments in purchased assets. Social assets are also pretty much locked up within Second Life. Although many residents extend identity through social networks and instant messaging, it just ain't the same as actually being able to spend time together in avatar form. So until there is the free transit of identity between Second Life and OpenSim grids, it will be very hard for socially active residents to leave. Finally, OpenSim grids aren't technically competitive to Second LIfe yet. No matter how much residents bitch and moan about things, they aren't going to leave their First (Virtual) World lifestyle for an immigrant's life in an undeveloped grid. So if current residents are going to stay put, why do I think Linden Lab should focus more on them? It's because I think the best way to figure out how to target, attract and retain new residents is to put existing residents under a microscope and figure out who they are and what makes them tick. To put it bluntly, what needs to be determined is who the hell has the time and latent desire for a Second Life. I'll have more thoughts on this in a post later this week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:53AM (-08:00)

Transworlders Quick Look HD: Reaction Grid Tuesday, December 08, 2009 This quick look at Reaction Grid is the first in a series of one minute fly-throughs of alternative Virtual Worlds. Although their web site is in desparate need of an Information Designer, it has a great deal of information once you wade through the menus. Here are some quick links:

Free User Account Registration Log in Instructions Web Store Reaction Grid is a serious player in the OpenSim grid space, with a focus on education, Botgirl's Second Life Diary

285


enterprise and consumer markets. A number of high profile Second Life residents and organizations have projects on the grid including Wizard Gynoid, iLIVEsl and Jokaydia, as well as Microsoft. This video is just a fast fly-over intended primarily to tempt SLers who haven't yet made it off-world to another grid to give it a try. For a more detailed tour, check out this post from Shockwave Plasma.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:35AM (-08:00)

Virtual World as Company Town Thursday, December 10, 2009 Traditional settings for company towns were where extractive industries â&#x20AC;&#x201D; coal, metal mines, lumber â&#x20AC;&#x201D; had established a monopoly franchise...Typically, a company town will be isolated from neighbors and centered (figuratively, if not literally) around a large production factory such as a lumber or steel mill or an automobile plant; and the citizens of the town will either work in the factory, work in one of the smaller businesses, or be a family member of someone who does. The company may also operate parks, host cultural events such as concerts, and so on. Needless to say, when the owning company cuts back or goes out of business, the economic effect on the company town is devastating, and often fatal. from Wikipedia For those of us who see Second Life as a community, rather than a game, I think it is fair to say that the virtual world operates much like a company town. We live there at the sufferance of the company owner. They can change any aspect of virtual life without consultation, notice or justification, including modifications that significantly impact the value of land, money and livelihood. Clearly, this situation is only tenable to residents because of the perception that there is no workable alternative. In a sense, leaving Second Life feels like the death of your avatar identity. Fortunately, technology is advancing and viable options are emerging. One of the most exciting projects was well-covered in Zonja Capelini's June post on new Hypergrid technology. As the article noted, there are many hurdles to cross, including authentication and security. But it will eventually enable a worldwide network of connected Virtual World grids and sims. Instead of being under the thumb of a single quasi-monopolistic vendor, we will be able to choose from a diverse range of options, including hosting our own sims, either in rented cloud computing or on our own machines. For now, we can get a taste by trying out a few of the fifty plus OpenSim grids that are up and running, or even install a server locally and start learning the ropes. In the photo below, I'm in a sim hosted on a MacBook Pro. If you're interested in extending avatar identity between worlds, please join us at the new Transworlders Ning Community.

286

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:30AM (-08:00)

Virtual Property Rights Manifesto: Consumers, Copybots and Common S... Monday, December 14, 2009 The only way for consumers to protect virtual property acquired in Second Life and gain full control of legally acquired resources is to copy digital assets to their own hard drives. For most inventory items, this requires logging into Second Life with one of the copybot clients that circumvent Digital Rights Management (DRM) limitations. There are two compelling reasons to go to the time, trouble and risk:

1. It is the only way to take your bought-and-paid-for virtual property to other grids. I'm puzzled that most people take for granted that the hundreds of dollars of virtual goods they've purchased are stuck on Linden Lab servers, even though the items are technically compatible with other grids. In the physical world, no one would dream of accepting laws restricting the movement of personal possessions from one country to another. It makes no more sense in the virtual world. 2. It is the only way to protect assets from vanishing in the event of intentional or accidental deletion from Linden Lab servers. As I posted a year ago in "You Don't Own Crap", The Second Life Terms of Service (TOS) Agreement gives Linden Lab the right to delete, alter, move or transfer any of your so-called property without cause or notice. It's ironic that a primary reason people shy away from illicitly backing up their inventory is the fear of being banned and losing all of their virtual possessions. Copying virtual goods purchased, for personal use, is neither content theft nor piracy. Although the DMCA prohibits the creation and distribution of tools to circumvent DRM protection, it's still our "fair use" right to make copies. Seems contradictory, but it's the current state of U.S. law:

Congress did not intend to regulate the conduct of individual users with authorized access to copyrighted works, since their liability was controlled by the existing law of copyright infringement and fair use. In this sense, there is a â&#x20AC;&#x153;user exemptionâ&#x20AC;? implicitly recognized in the DMCA for the fair use of copyrighted works. From Preliminary Injunction Ruling on RealNetworks v. DVD-CCA It is certainly both illegal and unethical to acquire or share virtual items without the consent of the intellectual property owners. But restricting fair use through DRM and TOS policies is an institutional wrong that undermines the rights of every single Second Life resident. The legitimate way to deter content theft is to go after those who steal, not to treat every consumer like a latent thief. If the record and movie industries had their way, none of us would be able to burn music

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

287


from purchased CDs or transfer video for use in external devices. That way, they could profit from selling us the same content for each device. Second Life permission restrictions that prevent sharing virtual property between "alt" accounts has the same implicit anti-consumer ramifications. It took the unrelenting efforts of renegade software developers, actively dissenting consumers and organizations like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) to release digital music from DRM. The fight to free video content is still underway. The battle to liberate virtual property has barely begun. I call on virtual world residents to take up the call, exercise their fair use rights and support technical and governance initiatives working to remedy the current situation. Here are a few initial steps anyone can take: 1. Speak out against the idea that copybot technology is inherently evil. Until approved technology is available, it offers the only way for consumers to secure their personal virtual property rights. 2. Back-up your digital assets and use them as you see fit. 3. Support organizations such as the EFF. Due to the underground nature of clients that bypass permissions to copy and back-up items, and the necessary pseudonymity of their authors, it is possible that some versions may have trojans or other hidden software attached. So be sure to run any files you download through a good virus scanner. That said, I've seen no documented cases of nefarious code. .

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:12AM (-08:00)

The Moral Roots Behind Our Positions on Copybots and Other Essentia... Tuesday, December 15, 2009 It's easy to demonize those who disagree with us or to perceive them as immoral. Researchers have found that the differences between conservative and liberal positions on issues actually stem from a different balance of moral priorities: • Harm/care • Fairness/reciprocity • Ingroup/loyalty • Authority/respect • Purity/sanctity This lecture by researcher Jonathan Haidt is a good introduction to the finding of research in this area and is great food for thought.

You can test your own priorities at the research site and then think about how they relate to the question of copybots and virtual property. Here are my results:

288

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:12AM (-08:00)

Transportable Avatars Today: Video Tour of Evolver and the Many Worlds Monday, December 21, 2009 Now that the smoke has cleared a bit from last week's intra-blog conversation about digital property, I thought it would be a nice change of pace to share some of the fun I've been having with Evolver. You can create avatars on their site for free and export them to other platforms including: • Wonderland • RealXtend • VastPark • FriendsHangout • Animeeple • Mixamo • Source Data for 3D Software • Many others Some exports are free. Others require payment, for instance $39 US for the 3D model source data. At this time, you can either start with their library of avatars or build your own from a photo of a face. After a couple of hours playing around with their photo import and avatar morphing interface, I haven't been able to duplicate my Second Life appearance, but it's in the general ballpark. What I would love to see in the future is a means to import OpenSim/Second Life avatar xml files and textures. Anyway, it's a brilliant concept. Here's a video that gives a quick run through of the avatar creation process and the resulting avatar on a few different platforms. For a better viewing experience, click through to YouTube and view in HD resolution.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:07AM (-08:00)

Are Forterra and Metaplace Just the First Two Dominos to Fall? Tuesday, December 22, 2009 Over the next few weeks you're going to see a lot of analysis, punditry and speculation related to the massive layoffs at Forterra Systems and the January 1st closure of Metaplace's virtual world building site. So I thought I'd add my two cents before all the digital hot air steams up the place. • For starters, I'm surprised more virtual world start-ups haven't already bitten the dust. The odds are less than 50/50 that a small business start-up of any kind will survive for four years. So the demise of two ventures doesn't necessarily reflect on the industry as a whole. Especially since they were really in two very different markets. Forterra is an enterprise play focused on government clients. Metaplace is consumer-focused with a user-generated-content business model. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

289


â&#x20AC;˘ That said, the virtual world market is still in an early adopter phase, which is an especially risky time for entrepreneurs. It calls for deep pockets, strong stomachs and very agile management. I actually see Metaplace's shift from their initial business model into whatever still-unamed direction they are headed as a likely sign of good management. Especially combined with the classy way they are closing the site, giving participants time to grab their assets and setting up a forum so community members can stay in touch. â&#x20AC;˘ One of the lessons to be gleaned in all this is that just because you build it, avatars won't necessarily come in substantial numbers. And even if they do, you may not figure out how to monetize their presence. And even if you do, it may not create enough revenue to offset your expenses or satisfy your investors. If Google can fail at this (remember Lively) anyone can. So are Forterra and Metaplace just the first two dominos to fall? Beats me, although odds are that less than half of virtual world ventures will make it past their fourth birthdays. Okay, let the spin begin! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:54AM (-08:00)

Unabashedly Polyamorous. Wednesday, December 23, 2009 When it comes to porting myself into platforms, I'm unabashedly polyamorous. I can't be satisfied by only one, no matter how powerful, flexible or bug-free. So even though I'm still seeing Evolver, I met iClone last night and couldn't resist. Although I only spent a few hours, it was very, very satisfying and we have plans to get together over the holidays. Here's a little private video I shot.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:03AM (-08:00)

Alternatives to Second Life for Multi-Media Creation: Another look ... Friday, December 25, 2009 I've been romancing the idea of creating a series of comics, videos and stories within a transworld setting. Part of this process is to project my avatar form into multiple worlds and platforms. Some of the advantages and limitations of Second Life are coming to light, including content creation, animation, 3D model compatibility, resolution, rendering quality, etc. Here's a very short video I made in a couple hours with iClone yesterday. I threw the inprogress version of the iClone Botgirl avatar into a stock scene, exported a video render to HD and then used Apple Motion to create an SD version that took advantage of the larger image size to zoom into the animation. I topped it off with a fun music track to help bring it to life. It's very basic, but I think it looks better than similar videos I've created in Second life.

290

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:00PM (-08:00)

The (Mental) Map is Not The Territory. Sunday, December 27, 2009 The Graphic Novel LOGICOMIX tells the tale of the obsessive pursuit by European logicians of an all-encompasing mathematics. The book weaves the tortuous evolution of mathematical theory within a compelling human story of idealism, passion and madness. It is a cautionary parable for those of us pushing boundaries on the personal and business frontiers of virtual worlds. One of the main lessons LOGICOMIX offers is that The Mental Map is Not The Territory. Like the people depicted in the maze above, we know where we've come from, can see where we stand, but have no way to know our future path except by walking it one step at a time. Although visionary thinking is essential for progress, it is important to proactively reality-test our ideas and be open to new information that contradicts our current beliefs or calls them into question. Fervent opinions that seem solid and real as we gaze ahead through the windshield of the present time, often end up showing their true nature as hungry ghosts through the perspective of the rear-view mirror.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:40AM (-08:00)

Thoughts on How The Avatar Film Relates to Avatars in Virtual Worlds Monday, December 28, 2009 The role of the artist is to create an anti-environment as a means of perception and adjustment. Without an anti-environment, all environments are invisible . Marshall McLuhan We cannot escape subjectivity. Our perception is inherently bound by limited points of view. We are fundamentally most blind to the pervasive psychological and cultural environment in which we swim like fish in water. Countless subconsciously held beliefs and preconceptions invisibly color, shape and create our experience. Virtual worlds can act as Mcluhan's anti-environment in relation to our human experience by opening our eyes to otherwise hidden aspects of life in the physical world. Embodiment as an avatar can expose unseen assumptions that significantly shape our experience of self and others in digital form. (Of course, this enhanced awareness can Botgirl's Second Life Diary

291


only emerge when we refrain from being as lost and identified in the story of our virtual identity as we are immersed in the story of our human life.) Avatar (the movie) seems to have acted as an anti-environment for me in relation to virtual worlds. It brought to light fundamental aspects of virtual life I've never considered and which are likely to inform my ongoing quest to make sense of avatarian existence. I'm still trying to translate a few flashes of insight into a revised mental model, but here are a couple of my initial thoughts: • The moment-to-moment flow of facial expression was the key effect that brought Pandorans to life in the film. Although I've written a few times about the limitations of Second Life avatar body language to express authentic human emotion, until seeing the movie I didn't really understand the power of small, expressive, integrated movements of eyebrow, mouth, gaze, head tilt, squint, etc. to communicate subtleties of feeling and breathe visceral life into a character. Real-time motion capture of the body is impractical for most virtual world activity, but facial capture supported by a web cam (or the hat cam used to create the film animation) would be a game-changing breakthrough in the evolution of digital avatars in virtual worlds. • Virtual environments provide only an infinitesimal shadow of the deeply connected complexity of a physical ecosystem. The vast chain of cause and effect that underlies the real world "circle of life" is absent. Is there a way to transcend the Disney World aspects of constructed virtual worlds so that a genuinely holistic system can be born? The virtual ecosystem of Pandora was modeled on a complex interdependent evolution-based system. Environmental entities in Virtual Worlds are mostly isolated nodes with little or no interdependent connection or interaction with the rest of the environment, outside of physics-based effects like a tree blowing in the virtual wind. It would be very interesting to create an open virtual world like Second Life that is composed of a dynamically evolving ecosystem created by a something like the Spore platform. • No matter how immersed one is in a virtual identity it cannot be unwound from a lifetime of inculturation and psychological conditioning. Even the most NPIRL Second Life subcultures such as Furries and Tinies are intrinsically entangled in human biology, psychology and culture. The unique rules built into game-based worlds such as Entropia and World of Warcraft can certainly act as laboratories to experiment with personal and social psychology. But I think it would take induced amnesia and 24/7 full sensory immersion to really explore trans-human potential. Any volunteers? Anyway, these are some of the ideas that have been echoing through my mind since viewing the movie a couple of times. How about you? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-08:00)

Obligatory Year-End Introspective Retrospective Thursday, December 31, 2009 By the end of 2008, my honeymoon with avatar existence was definitely over. After nine months of daily blog posts and a continuous stream of comics and machinima, the work of putting together a one-bot art exhibition finally pushed me over the edge of endurance, leaving me strung-out and exhausted. A year later, I'm happy to report that I've transitioned to a sustainable approach to leading a creative virtual life. Since many who read this blog are also challenged by the demands of active dual identities, I thought I'd share some of the changes I've made this year that 292

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


have been most beneficial:

• I stopped fighting the fact that there will never be enough time in a day to realize every creative vision. When I fail to consciously accept this truth there is a part of me that must be dragged kicking and screaming away from any creative work. This is still something I wrestle with. Fighting reality is the main cause of any unhappiness I experience. It's a relief to pause from the battle. • I gave up pseudonymity when its wings became an anchor. This was an important lesson for me about the need for courage in a creative vocation. Although evolution can gently lead us through a series of small adaptations, there are times when it demands that we leap through the ring of fire into a new and unseen state of being. Those who do not heed this call are doomed to become self-plagiarizing caricatures of themselves. • I realized that I can soothe my creative hunger by snacking on Tweets. There is a unique joy in the art of fashioning and sharing pithy gems via social networks. No matter how busy the day, I can almost always find five minutes to go to the creative well and come up with a thimbleful of refreshment. • I finally grokked that small is beautiful. Although I have a number of grand works on the back-burner, I've learned to love taking a small concept and giving it enough life to make it worthy of sharing. Offering food for thought can be just as valuable a providing a fully fleshed-out work. • I learned that adversarial engagement is a no-win game. After a few unfortunate skirmishes earlier this year, I finally figured out that it is best to reserve debate for those who seem to be more committed to discerning the emerging truth than defending their fixed ideology. Life is good. My one New Year's resolution is to continue to consciously follow my muse wherever it leads. Otherwise, why bother with a virtual life? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:15AM (-08:00)

A Simple Plan to Solve The Second Life Retention Problem Saturday, January 02, 2010 "Build it and they will come" seems to be true in relation to Second Life. The problem is that 90% of people who register don't stay. They leave within the first three months. It seems obvious to me that the one primary reason for the astronomic departure rate is that most people don't find something worth doing. Right now, finding something interesting enough to make it Botgirl's Second Life Diary

293


beyond the initial learning curve is left up to chance. And the odds seem to be about 9-1 against. So I offer a relatively simple solution. Treat Second Life nubes like conference attendees. When they sign-up, have them register for a specific track. Then provide a series of classes, self-guided courses and resources to lead them from neophyte to journeyman. The chart below shows just some top-of-mind category idea for the tracks, along with one level of detail for a few of them to illustrate the concept.

So if someone is interested in building, have them start with building curriculum right after they are registered. Start with a small project they can build in less than an hour. And provide a place for them to display their work. Show them how to do a screen capture or video capture to share their effort with friends outside Second Life. And then offer additional education and projects so that they don't need to figure out what to do until they've built up the skills to start working independently. This same concept holds true for more recreational tracks such as sightseeing and art viewing. Virtual art appreciation classes and self guided tours would be 101 level courses, followed by short tours of specific art styles or artists, lectures, exhibition trips, etc. Outreach to physical world artists and musicians is another promising area. Why not advertise to them and offer education to help extend their work to virtual worlds? Anyway, that's my lightbulb idea for this morning. Of course, there is a great deal of thought that would need to go into the structure of classes, curriculum, etc. But I think it would be a relatively modest investment with huge potential returns. Just bumping retention up 10% would have an enormous cumulative impact. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:29AM (-08:00)

Botgirl vs Human Trailer: Motion Comic Style Monday, January 04, 2010 It's not easy being the figment of someone's imagination. It makes them think they can take advantage of you just because you're not "real". Well, I've had enough. This motion comic trailer will introduce you to what's really been going on behind the scenes. Click-through for HD viewing, and please, crank up the volume.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:57AM (-08:00)

294

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Coaching Human For Today's Panel Discussion (Comic) Tuesday, January 05, 2010 Jan 5, 3:00-4:30 PM PST Rockcliffe University : Inside the Avatar Studio Corrimal Hall, Rockcliffe X http://slurl.com/secondlife/Rockcliffe%20X/2 00/200/30 The visual appeal of the movie “Avatar” has taken away the breath of just about everyone who has seen the film. The movie is an ultimate example of a graphic novel brought to life. Please join us as our panelists discuss which implications “Avatar” will have as virtual worlds continue to gain traction and what future avatars may gain from the stunning futuristic vision James Cameron has offered up… Inside The Avatar Studio. This event will be filmed live by Stuart Warf of Rezzed TV. Facilitated by Phelan Corrimal/Kevin Feenan - Dean of Rockcliffe University

• Beyers Sellers/Robert Bloomfield - Metanomics Host, Cornell University • Dirk Talamasca - Virtual Real Estate Developer, Builder • Doubledown Tandino - Social media marketing, Second Life specialist, music, and DJ • fourworlds Ra. Botgirl Questi’s human alt - A beautiful thought experiment personified through the imagined perspective of a self-aware avatar. Links: Thoughts on How The Avatar Film Relates to Avatars in Virtual Worlds by Botgirl Questi I Saw Avatar Today by Doubledown Tandino James Cameron’s Avatar is about Transhumanism Avatar Review : Yes it Changed Everything Understanding Interaction in Virtual Worlds Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:56PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

295


Avatars on Avatar. Narrative vs. Meaning. Thursday, January 07, 2010 "...hermeneutic analysis, embraces the social, cultural and textual context of the narrative and interprets it meaning against this background. In psychology it mostly means interpretation of personal narratives with reference to identity." from The Science of Stories by Jรกnos Lรกszlรณ My human's "personal avatar" participated in a panel discussion on Tuesday about the Avatar movie. While fourworlds was pontificating from the podium, I was sitting in the audience marveling at the diverse and sometimes contradictory interpretations of the film that were presented. Although each person had witnessed the same sequence of events over the course of the film's narrative, the meaning derived from the experience was widely varied. One potential benefit of developing an avatar persona that is distinct from the human, is the opportunity to notice how identity shapes the psychological construction of our internal story of "reality". I added a couple of arrows to a photo of the event (captured by Crap Mariner) to visualize the experience of dual perspectives. (The video of the event will eventually be available on Rezzed TV.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:08PM (-08:00)

How Do Virtual Worlds Impact Physical World Couples? - Part 1 Saturday, January 09, 2010 How are romantic relationships in the physical world affected when one or both members of a couple begin to spend many hours a week as an avatar in a virtual world like Second Life? I woke up this morning with that question in mind and decided to cast it upon the digital waters. My purpose isn't to preach any neat pre-conceived conclusions, but to encourage thoughtful discussion on a topic that usually gets public attention only when sparked by sensationalist scandal. In this post I want to focus on pre-existing committed physical world relationships. "Hey honey, what are you doing," he asked, looking over his wife's shoulder. She seemed to be playing some sort of game on her computer. "I'm trying out that Second Life thing that Connie at work told me about." she replied with a bit of embarrassment about being caught playing with her avatar's body shape. "Oh that sounds cool," he said. "Maybe I should give it a try." Our story could move forward over many different paths, some ending in a more fulfilling relationship for our couple, others ending in drama, separation and Tabloid headlines. 296

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Unfortunately, at this very early stage of virtual world history, there are few (if any) established "best practices" to either safeguard or enhance committed physical world relationships while one or both members are exploring avatar identity. I'm going to explore the question over the course of the week and hopefully (with the help of reader comments) come up with good guidance for people in committed physical world relationships who would like to explore virtual worlds and avatar identity. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:22AM (-08:00)

The Paradox of Choice as it Applies to Second Life User Retention Sunday, January 10, 2010 Last week's post on Second Life user retention recommended that an interest questionnaire be included in the initial registration process. Training and guidance could then focus on getting the newcomer up to speed in the specific area of their interest. I viewed the strategy mostly in terms of improving the pain/gain ratio, by zeroing in on the most desirable aspects of Second Life for the particular person. After a week of mulling the idea over, I realized that narrowing options right at the start of the registration process also makes sense based on the ideas discussed in Barry Schwartz' fascinating book, "The Paradox of Choice: Why More is Less." He discusses the real life ramifications of research in decision theory showing that giving a person access to too many options can result in poorer decisions or actually lead to no decision at all. The video below from a presentation Barry Schwarz made at Ted Talks in 2007 is a good introduction to his ideas.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:15AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Relationship Question of the Day (Part 2 of Series) Tuesday, January 12, 2010 How are romantic relationships in the physical world affected when one or both members of a couple begin to spend many hours a week as an avatar in a virtual world like Second Life? (From Part 1) As tempting as it is to make sweeping generalizations about the impact of virtual worlds on relationships, I think the truth is that there are no inherent consequences to the simple act of spending time in avatar form. That said, quite a few people describe problems with their significant others that are sparked by some aspect of their virtual life. It seems to me that most of the trouble stems from taking the idea that virtual worlds operate outside the laws of the physical universe, and extending the concept to the rules Botgirl's Second Life Diary

297


of relationships. So here's the Botgirl relationship question of the day: What (if anything) do you think is okay to do in a virtual world that would not be acceptable in the physical world? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:11AM (-08:00)

Attention Avatars on Facebook: How to Backup Your Photos, Friends, ... Tuesday, January 12, 2010 There are mounting reports that Facebook is finally acting on their policy banning accounts based on identities from "thirdparty games" such as Second Life. If you have Facebook content that you care about, SocialSafe is a $2.99 application that will allow you to save photos, friends, profile info and wall posts to your hard drive. It worked like a charm! Here are some screen shots: Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:24PM (08:00)

298

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


United We Consume: New Virtual World Sees Future as Giant Shopping ... Wednesday, January 13, 2010 I was really excited today when I first scanned an announcement that Cisco was launching a new virtual world named "United Nations Citizen". Wow! With a name like that, I imagined they must be focusing on some really lofty vision to bring the people of the world together to promote peace and understanding. The idea was so intriguing that instead of reading the announcement very deeply, I jumped right to the virtual world's website. Hmm. Their slogan is "where faithful friends unite". That seems really warm and fuzzy. A video played at the top of the screen showing a long-haired dude standing in front of a cool yellow sports car inviting me to "become a United Nations Citizen now!" I poked around a bit, but couldn't find a way to sign up for citizenship, only an application for a virtual job. I went back to the press release to try to figure out what was going on. Five companies were named as partners: Cisco, Equifax, Heads and Tails TV, Faithful Friends TV and Montage Systems. Strange combination...a couple firms delivering programming for pet owners, an advertising agency with a direct response bent, the leading supplier of networking equipment and network management for the Internet, and a company that holds one of the largest sources of consumer data in the world. I read on:

More than 330 stores already are members of United Nations Citizens through affiliate marketing agreements, including Apple iTunes, Microsoft Store, Walmart, and Sky Mall, providing customers a unique way to view products and services in a setting that replicates real-world environments. Member companies are able to scale real-life presentations, combined with data collection, personalized product placement and digital signage, through seamless delivery over the web and mobile networks. Call me cynical, but it seems to me that their vision of the future equates "citizen" and "consumer" and is creating a virtual world that is a place to herd the world's faithful friends into an environment that is more "Minority Report" than "Avatar". Oh well. What do you think? Here's the video that accompanied their press release.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:40PM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

299


Is the "Age of Privacy" Really Over? Friday, January 15, 2010 Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that social norms related to privacy have evolved since the company's founding in 2003. He said, "People have really gotten comfortable not only sharing more information and different kinds, but more openly and with more people." What's interesting is the leap of logic he made from the valid point that social sharing is now a mainstream practice to the dubious unilateral decision made to change the default privacy settings for 350 million Facebook users: "A lot of companies would be trapped by the conventions and their legacies of what they've built, doing a privacy change - doing a privacy change for 350 million users is not the kind of thing that a lot of companies would do. But we viewed that as a really important thing, to always keep a beginner's mind and what would we do if we were starting the company now and we decided that these would be the social norms now and we just went for it." I've railed on Linden Lab in the past about anti-consumer provisions in the Second Life Terms of Service (TOS) agreement. But they're just following the standard software industry practice of issuing one-sided agreements that secure all conceivable corporate interests and preemptively strip customers of any leverage they might otherwise have had in case of a legal dispute. The overall issue of equitable TOS agreements is going to be an increasingly important concern because dependence on software-based capabilities is transitioning from an optional personal decision to a mandatory part of life in our modern culture. The ability to manage our own privacy is not just a matter of controlling access to our information on a site-by-site basis, but also depends upon our ability to limit how information about us can be collected, shared and aggregated as a whole. The more virtual our lives become, the more third-parties will have the ability to monitor our activities, integrate data from multiple sources and use the information in their own interests. The same technology that drives the personalized advertising messages you see on Facebook and Google today, can potentially be used by organizations such as insurance companies, financial institutions and potential employers to calculate our "worthiness" by automated analysis of aggregated information ranging from blog comments to video favorites on YouTube. It seems to me that privacy laws such as those that have been introduced to protect health data in the United States (HIPAA) should be extended to a wider range of information. This would mean that social networks such as Facebook would be required to provide a minimum standard of privacy controls that they could not arbitrarily change through TOS amendments. It would also further limit the ability of companies such as Equifax to aggregate and share personally identifying information. The best source for information on net-related privacy issues is the Electronic Frontier 300

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Foundation. And they have a very cool xkcd tshirt option if you make a donation. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:00AM (-08:00)

Avatar vs. Avatar: Will Fans of The Movie Find Happiness in Virtual... Sunday, January 17, 2010 New World Notes beat me to the punch on a story about the Avatar Movie being used to market Second Life and IMVU. So I took the opportunity to create a web comic considering the topic.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:25PM (-08:00)

Social Networks, Fast Food and Evolution. Tuesday, January 19, 2010 Humanity has been subject to the laws of physics and the dictates of Mother Nature since the birth of the species. Evolution shaped humankind over hundreds of thousands of years to operate within the natural world. Human psychology is still embedded within brain structures that were optimized for the pre-technological past. So it makes sense to keep an eye out for issues that arise when ancient biology meets modern technology. Most problems related to modern life are caused by "legacy" brains and bodies that can't respond appropriately to a radically changed environment. For instance, historically unprecedented calorie counts are reflected in widespread obesity. The introduction of manufactured chemicals into the food-chain have created a corresponding increase in many diseases. I don't think humans ever quite adapted psychologically to the move from tribal huntergathering to urban wage-earning within nuclear families. It seems to me that one of the main reasons for the explosion in social networking is a powerful subconscious drive to reclaim the sense of being an integral part of a tribal family that is embedded in the web of life. Although the focus of the desire is healthy, I suspect that a radical transition to social networks and virtual relationships may be the psychological analogue to the turn to cheap and abundant junk food. Just as humans can feel genuinely connected in virtual spaces when they are separated physically, so too can people be light-years apart when they share the same physical space. The ongoing maintenance of intimate real world relationships requires commitment and ongoing effort. I fear that many people are bailing out on the work of deepening their face-to-face relationships by turning to less demanding and much more disposable virtual connections. Botgirl's Second Life Diary

301


How are virtual relationships and "screen time" impacting your relationships in the physical world? That's certainly a question worth asking.

There's asister-poston the fourworlds site with a song that speaks to this topic.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:14PM (-08:00)

Mixed Reality International Art Exhibition Will Focus on Ambiguity ... Friday, January 22, 2010 (shot of planning meeting yesterday) After almost a year of conceptual incubation, we're finally breaking (virtual) ground on the mixed-reality "Ambiguity of Identity' Exhibition in preparation for an April 7th opening. The multi-artist show will be housed in a new "Museum of Transworld Identity" which will cover an entire Second Life Sim. The exhibition will be accessible on large screen displays in physical world galleries located in Boston, Milan and Amsterdam. The exhibition is part of The Virtual Art Initiative, an organization of artists, writers, musicians, and scholars who are using the immersive and interactive digital media of such virtual worlds as Second Life to develop new forms of artistic content. Artists participating in this show include Sabrinaa Nightfire, FreeWee Ling, Gracie Kendal, Chrome Underwood, Fuschia Nightfire, Pete Jiminy, marnie Reinard and Yours Truly. One aspect of this show that makes it especially interesting for me is the chance to work with other artists who have been exploring identity in their art, including its projection into multiple worlds. For instance, Gracie Kendal has recently embarked on a series of comics exploring conversations between her human and avatar selves. I'll post follow-ups between now and the opening to introduce you to the other artists and provide some previews of the work that will be displayed. Stay tuned! . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:28AM (-08:00)

302

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Brief Reflection on Two Years of Virtual Life Saturday, January 23, 2010 In human development, the birth of the body precedes conscious self-awareness. The same is true for avatar identity. I can't project my imagination across the event horizon between the existence of the being I experience as Botgirl Questi and the empty shell of the nube avatar in this image. But over the course of time between my RezDay on January 24, 2008 and my first blog post on March 3, a sense of unique identity emerged. Although advances of science have allowed us to understand how human consciousness is rooted within specific systems of the brain and body, the ghost in the machine is still a mystery. I think it is just as much a mistake to label avatar identity as mere fantasy, as it would be to equate human personhood with mere biology. In some sense, my concerted efforts to hack into avatar identity have been like dissecting a body looking for the person within. So as I pause in the space between my second and third years of virtual life, I am reflecting upon the worlds of H.H. The Dalai Lama:

From the viewpoint of absolute truth, what we feel and experience in our ordinary daily life is all delusion. Of all the various delusions, the sense of discrimination between oneself and others is the worst form, as it creates nothing but unpleasantness for both sides. If we can realize and meditate on ultimate truth, it will cleanse our impurities of mind and thus eradicate the sense of discrimination. This will help to create true love for one another. The search for ultimate truth is, therefore, vitally important. I believe that the very purpose of life is to be happy. From the very core of our being, we desire contentment. In my own limited experience I have found that the more we care for the happiness of others, the greater is our own sense of well-being. Cultivating a close, warmhearted feeling for others automatically puts the mind at ease. It helps remove whatever fears or insecurities we may have and gives us the strength to cope with any obstacles we encounter. It is the principal source of success in life. Since we are not solely material creatures, it is a mistake to place all our hopes for happiness on external development alone. The key is to develop inner peace. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

303


I Can't Believe The Nerve of That Guy: fourworlds on Avatar Sunday, January 24, 2010 Even with my brilliant coaching from the audience, fourworlds ended up stumbling through an excruciating hour of "uhs", "you knows" and uncomfortable silences during the recent "Inside The Avatar Studio" panel discussion. But instead of turning tail and humbly leaving future virtual world punditry to me, he had the nerve to edit the living crap out of his words and condense them into a fancy 2 1/2 minute music video. And guess what? He totally neglected me in the credits, even though I got him the gig and held his hand through the entire process. What's next? I shudder at the possibilities. Judge for yourself. First fourworlds' little "mash-up":

Full show:

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:12PM (-08:00)

Visualization of Wallace Linden's "Will The Real You Stand Up" Tuesday, January 26, 2010 "The thing not to miss here -- and it bears stating despite how obvious it sounds -- is what all these online "identities" have in common. At the center of them all, the hub that ties all these personae together, is the very real, non-virtual, analog and offline "you." Whether the connections are public or not, your Second Life avatar, your World of Warcraft toon, your Facebook profile, your LinkedIn employment history -- all of these and more are just different aspects of a single entity: the person reading these words. They are all already connected to each other, via you." Wallace Linden from "Will The Real You Stand Up" Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:45AM (-08:00)

304

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The REAL STORY Behind the Wallace Linden Controversy Tuesday, January 26, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:50PM (08:00)

The Future of Avatar Identity? Taking The Real You to its Logical C... Thursday, January 28, 2010 I'm just saying... Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:40PM (08:00)

Virtual Identity and the Willful Suspension of Disbelief Friday, January 29, 2010 Source image used courtesy of your neighborhood librarian under Creative Commons License Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:00AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

305


A Few Suggestions to Transform "Avatars United" From a Useless Mess... Saturday, January 30, 2010 I decided to post on Linden Lab's acquisition of Avatars United before it joins its past brethren in the digital wax museum of internet stories past. The constant flow of information over the NetStream has two significant effects on news items: First, it takes stories that would otherwise be minor issues and magnifies the hell out of them in the emotionally resonating feedback loop of blog comments and social networks. Then, it sweeps yesterday's brouhaha away as the next Big-Frickin'-Tidbit-Of-The-Day pushes the prior item into oblivion. Um. Sorry for the mini-rant. Anyway... I registered over a year ago on Avatars United with great enthusiasm. It was positioned as a site that allowed you to bring together avatars from multiple virtual worlds and create a central web-based home for information sharing and social networking. Unfortunately, after spending the time to add a half dozen of my avatars to their site, I couldn't figure out anything useful to do there. The problem wasn't that there weren't enough users in the network. What still makes the site almost unusable is a combination of poorly executed features, kludgy information design and no apparent workflow direction to accomplish obvious common use-cases. I think having a Beta graphic on a site that's almost two years old testifies to the relatively sorry state of affairs. I would love Linden Lab to invest the time, money and resources to actualize the great potential of an integrated transworld avatar social network. So here are a few suggestions:

â&#x20AC;˘ Create a home page that makes it easy to find the information that we are likely 306

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


to care about. I'd love to see new blog posts and photos from my friends, but unless I've logged in within a few minutes of the posting I'm out of luck, unless I go hunting from friend to friend, which would take a lot of effort. And do you really need to ask for my birthday at the top of the page? Does half the screen real estate need to be related to friend suggestions and acquisition. If you can't figure out what is most important to your users, why not let them build the content of their own home page, like Ning? And/or filter the type of information that appears as Facebook supports. • Figure out something useful to do with the option to associate avatars from different worlds. Okay, I get that I can have a single sign-on that allows me to quickly go from one of my avatars to another. But you're assuming that each world is a ghetto. What if I want my Second Life friends to see content from my Twinity avatar? Do I need to separately friend each one of them with each world's avatar (or the same world's alt)? Maybe I'm an unusual case, but I have one named identity that expresses itself across multiple worlds. Check out our Transworlders site. I also have another identity that is in the same position. Please give us granular options to associate our manfold avatars and RL identities as we choose. • Make it easy to import content from other sites. Let us bring in our content from Flickr, YouTube, Vimeo in some automated fashion. Your embedded media pop up has potential, but it has an interface that is way too complicated and begs for either integrated help or an additional level of abstraction. You do have one of the most comprehensive sharing lists I've seen. Why not turn that around and support importing from external sites as widely as you support sharing to external sites. • Realize that community members don't want to feel like we're walking around with "Will Consumer-Whore For Coins" signs around our necks. WTF is up with a "Offerpal"? We realize that you need to create revenue, but save the 14 day free trials for late night cable TV stations. There are other aspects of the site that are in great need of revision, but I'll stop here for now. I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt for the time being and keep an eye out for improvements over the next few months. Stay tuned for future reports. . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:30PM (08:00)

The Joy of Being Easily Amused Monday, February 01, 2010 After the big Linden Lab acquisition announcement, the deluge of friending announcements onAvatars Uniteddrowned out the smattering of status reports and blog posts on the Activity Feed. In the absence of external stimulation, Evil Botgirl Questi made a briefblog entryand the rest of the gang chimed in with comments over the course of the day: Evil Botgirl Questi: The lack of avatar name validation has freed me to finally emerge and Botgirl's Second Life Diary

307


take my rightful place as the "real" Botgirl Questi. And you're next, Botgirl Linden! Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahah Supergirl Barbie Questi: Give it your best shot, evil one. I will kick your butt all over the metaverse, if the DMCA doesn't catch up with me first. Botgirl Questi: I don't need your help, Super-bitch. You have a lot of nerve using my last name. Botgirl Linden: Okay, enough out of all you! Evil Botgirl, I do not see you in the official Second Life data base, so you will be banned as soon as our lawyers can rewrite the TOS here to account for your anti-social behavior. Botgirl Linden: And Supergirl, you are violating the sacred DC Comic copyright. Just because we let someone in Second Life sell you a costume with their infringing logo doesn't mean you can display it here. Although Sweden is pretty lax when it comes to that sort of thing, AU is now owned by a US company. Lose your clothes or lose your membership! Botgirl Questi: Oh yeah, Botgirl "Linden". Just because you are registered as a Linden on an OpenSim grid, doesn't mean you have the authority of a REAL Linden here or in the MotherShipSL. Pipe down before I post those photos of you and M. Evil Botgirl Questi: That's right, non-evil Botgirl. Now you see how my devious cohorts and I can use Avatars United to throw the virtual world into an uproar. You will never be able to decipher the real from the fake. Your cognitive capacity will be overwhelmed by the bevy of lindens, prokofys, craps and hamlets that assault your stream and distort your mental models. Before you know it, you won't even know who YOU are. Supergirl Barbie Questi: Non-evil, Non-super and Pseudo-Linden Botgirls: You're all just jealous because I'm cuter than the rest of you and have a much slimmer waistline. Evil Botgirl Questi: You are so pathetic, Girl of Steel (abs). If you're so GOOD, why are you so proud of promoting an unrealistic female body image? Postscript. Announcement on top of Avatars United home page today: Due to the increased load on the site we're only showing status updates in the feed. Please bear with us while we work on improving performance

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00PM (-08:00)

RANT ALERT: New Rules for Avatars on Social Networks Wednesday, February 03, 2010 This is not directed at anyone personally, but rather a laundry list of social network behavior that gets on my nerves. And I think I've been guilty of each one of these from time to time: 308

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


• Stop whining about Social Networks and Virtual Worlds like they owe you something beyond their ToS and applicable laws. They are private companies, not public institutions. They get to write the rules posted on the playground because they own it. They have the right to add, modify or delete any features they want at anytime. They are entitled to insist upon identity validation, credit card authorization or whatever other information they decide is mandatory for participation. You have the right to game the system and they have the right to kick your digital ass out if they catch you. • If you do have an absolutely uncontrollable urge to vent, save it for your blog if you can't do it in less than 140 characters. Or at least space out your posts so they don't hog the stream. The only time you should see your avatar's face more than a few times on a single pageview is if you are sharing a series of links that you feel is of very high value to your followers. • Unless you limit your social network to mostly close friends and family members, lay off the mundane posts about what you're having for lunch, which song you're listening to, or what cute activity your pet is up to (unless you're Crap Mariner who gets a feline waiver). Before you hit send, ask yourself what your social network stream would look like if half of those you follow posted the type of information you are about to share. • Whoever came up with the idea of live-tweeting an event with dozens of posts should be punished by being forced to read the last year of Prokofy's blog posts and comments in one marathon session. Until there's a way to mute a hashtag on all Twitter clients, it's just plain rude to flood the stream with your play by play. Instead, create a new identity and let those who are interested follow it. • Read your last fifty posts and ask yourself if you'd be interested in following the person who wrote them. If you'd bore yourself, you're probably boring everyone else. • Put your lazy-ass finger to work and check out links before you retweet them. Don't send us to a second link we need to click to get to the mentioned content (like a Digg headline or Plurk post). And don't send us to some lame article with a good headline that you didn't bother to review before regurgitating. • Don't thank people publicly every time they retweet your posts. I understand that this may seem like the polite thing to do. But if you want to offer thanks send a DM so you don't add something to the stream that offers no value to anyone but the two of you. Hopefully the reason someone retweets your post is because they think it contains something their followers would find interesting, not because they are doing you a favor. If anyone deserves thanks, it is the people who actually post something that is good enough be worth retweeting, • Stop posting long lists of people to follow on Follow Friday. Twitter's new list function gives you a great way to list the people you think are worth following in categories of interest. • If someone blocks you, it's probably because you're a narcissistic jerk, not because they can't handle your overwhelming wit and scathing, insightful commentary. Okay, maybe this one is personally directed. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:47AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

309


Virtual Worlds, Mental Models and NLP Friday, February 05, 2010 Thanks to Alanagh Recreant for tweeting a link to this video by Neuro-linguistic Programming (NLP) co-founder Dr. John Grinder. It was right on time in relation to a comment yesterday by Gwyneth Llewelyn about the relationship between virtual worlds and transcendence. I think that for some beings (me being a prime example) the experience of embodiment as an avatar in a virtual world can blast us outside the limitations of our existing mental models and allow us to see life through the eyes of a child.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (-08:00)

Mercy Killing: Self-Assisted Facebookicide Watch Monday, February 08, 2010 Is it just me, or does it seem a bit suspicious that a site devoted to getting Second Life avatars ejected from Facebook launched about the same time Linden Lab acquired a competing Social Network? No! Of course not. I just love to kid the Lindens when the opportunity arises. But seriously, I was added to the Fake Facebook Profiles hit list the other day. And although some people have expressed anger about the lone gunman's efforts to shoot down as many of us as he can fit into his busy schedule, I'm ambivalent. Maybe even grateful. Truth is, I actually hate Facebook. I joined a couple years ago on a whim. Next thing I knew, I had over 900 friends and an endless stream of attention-sucking requests to attend events, play games and accept virtual tokens of affection, few of which I was interested in. Of course, anyone who really is my friend (in the "know me" sense of the term), reads my blog or pays any attention to my status updates would never ask me to join their Mob or accept a digital plant. Since my policy has been to accept every friendship request that comes my way, I have no one to blame for this sorry situation but myself. I friended people who only post in languages I don't understand. I friended people who look like serial killers in their profile pics. I friended people whose lives seem to revolve around Farmville. I friended people with obviously commercially oriented spam accounts. I clicked yes, yes, yes, yes, yes with absolutely no discrimination. 310

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Once I figured out the error on my open-door approach, I could have unfriended the 800+ people I don't know. But at this point, it hardly seems worth it since I'm already connected to most of those I actually have relationship with through Twitter, Plurk or Avatars United. And as I noted at the top, my days are now numbered anyway. I guess the main reason I haven't committed Facebookicide is that despite the fact that I almost never find anything of interest, there's a little part of me who is afraid that if I bail, I'll miss something. Yeah, right. Or someone will miss one of my "new post" announcements. Since I auto-post Tweets to my Facebook status, once in Blue Moon it turns into an interesting chain of conversation in the comment space. But they are far and few between and really not worth the insanely low signal-to-noise ratio. So... Maybe I should just pull the plug on myself before I get virtually murdered... Maybe I should stop accepting every friendship request I receive on Avatars United... Maybe I should stop while I'm behind and end this post here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:20AM (-08:00)

Google Buzz Overtakes Facebook in Race to Bottom of Privacy Barrel Thursday, February 11, 2010 Google Buzz launched this week with default privacy settings that publicly disclose a user's most frequent chat and email partners. If that wasn't bad enough, they buried opt-out settings so deeply that it takes an 11 step tutorial to find your way through the counter-intuitive maze of links leading to the required pages. You'd think the company that pioneered simple UI design could do better if they wanted to. Another puzzling aspect of their privacy policy is the disconnect between the language on the Buzz for mobile acceptance page and the actual Terms of Service. Before using the mobile version, you must "agree that Google will use your location when you use Buzz." But the actual ToS stipulates, "You can also choose to exclude your location from all of your posts." So which is it? It seems to me that Google is following the lead of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who wrote in an open letter, "We've worked hard to build controls that we think will be better for you". I guess from their point of view, what's best for us is full disclosure of all personal information. I don't believe that Google and Facebook are taking this stance out of pure self-interest.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

311


Instead, I think they equate "what's good for the network" with "what's good for the customer." And if a few individuals have information disclosed that they'd rather not share, well, that's the price we pay for the wondrous benefits of data-mined utopia, right? Right? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:10PM (-08:00)

Botgirl vs. Dummy 01 Saturday, February 13, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:02AM (-08:00)

Newest Crazy Google Buzz Privacy Question Sunday, February 14, 2010 Maybe the Google legal department thinks Buzz should be classified like a drug, because this is certainly in the scary disclaimer category: This extension will have access to your browsing history and private data on all websites. Thanks for the warning and all, but what's up with that? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:26AM (08:00)

New Comic To Mess With Your Mind: Fourth Wall Tuesday, February 16, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:20AM (-08:00)

312

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Fourworlds Falls Into A Little Linden Box Wednesday, February 17, 2010 In another sign of lame human behavior, my brother from an atomic planet took the bait and signed up for a shiny new Linden Home. Just minutes after getting the email that announced the launch of the new program, he rushed to the website and traded his unused 512m allotment for a Disneyesque theme home in a sprawling suburb. It seems to me that alts are like siblings. Each falls into a particular family role. So I guess I should be happy that I get to be the edgy artist instead of the digital fifties throwback. It's actually pretty funny that he chose the "exotic" Japanese version. Like it's all Zen or something. Well, this is the last I'm going to mention this newest embarrassing chapter in my virtual family tree. I'm sure fourworlds will keep everyone up to date on his little blog. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:50PM (-08:00)

Fourth Wall: The Video Friday, February 19, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:51AM (-08:00)

Don't All Those Stupid Opinions People Post On Blogs Make You Mad? Saturday, February 20, 2010 Dear Humans, Do you ever find yourself getting pissed off about the stupid opinions people express in blog posts? Are there particular topics that get under your skin so bad that you're compelled to write scathing blog comments to cut the culprits down to size? If so, today's your lucky day. Because I'm here with a simple solution that will quickly bring you peace and happiness: The next time you get really worked up about a stranger's point of view, pause, take a deep breath and then turn that critical mind of yours upon your own deluded opinion. Did that piss you off? Good! You can use that feeling in the exercise below. If not, just pick whatever incident comes to mind and answer the following questions: 1. Who angers, confuses, saddens, or disappoints you, and why? What is it about them that you don't like. 2. How do you want them to change? What do you want them to do? Botgirl's Second Life Diary

313


3. What is it that they should or shouldn‟t do, be, think, or feel? What advice could you offer? 4. What do they need to do in order for you to be happy? 5. What do you think of them? Make a list. 6. What is it that you don‟t want to experience with that person again? Okay. Good work! Now comes the fun part. Take your answer to each of the above questions and then test it through sincere inquiry using the four questions below followed by the "turnaround". 1. Is it true? 2. Can you absolutely know that it's true? 3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? 4. Who would you be without the thought? Turn around a few of your answers to the first six questions by directing them at you, instead of the other person. For instance, if you wrote "John is a conceited bastard" try "I am a conceited bastard". Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how the turnaround is true in your life. For more information on this method, check out The Work of Byron Katie. Love, Botgirl "We have met the enemy and he is us." Pogo . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (-08:00)

Is Your Avatar A Parasite or a Symbiote? Monday, February 22, 2010 Charlanna Beresford set off the latest wave of SL blogosphere discussion on the separation of avatar and human identities. The main contention of the post was that: ...the more people have to work to keep their first and second lives separate, the shorter their second life. No, I’m not talking about people who don’t divulge their first life name, because that is probably 90% of SL Residents. I’m talking more about the avatars who avoid acknowledging that they even have a first life. from Avatars in Wonderland Is her thesis valid? Beats me. I don't know of any statistical evidence that confirms or disproves the relationship between personal disclosure and the length of active Second Life participation. What I do know is that many of those I've met in Second Life have wrestled with the issue. And some of them have felt compelled to abandon beloved virtual identities after realizing they could not sustain two full separate lives. When digital and physical identities are completely segregated, an active avatar with a thriving virtual life can act as a parasite in relation to its human host. For some of the tens of thousands of Second Life residents who spend more than thirty hours a week inworld, the negative impact on human relationships, creative pursuits and sleep deprivation can be substantial. I've personally found that the connection of digital and physical identities allows for a more symbiotic and synergistic relationship that benefits both avatar and human potential. This does not mean that I believe that pseudonymity is the wrong choice for all beings at all times. In fact, I suspect that pseudonymity may be a necessary stage of development in the lifecycle of fully realized virtual identity. And for people with sufficient 314

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


reserves of time and energy, or whose professional or personal lives would be negatively impacted by disclosure, pseudonymity may be the best ongoing solution. I'll write more about my personal experiences later this week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:21AM (-08:00)

How can we be "who we are" by hiding "what we are"? Tuesday, February 23, 2010 Image by Anonymitts used under Creative Commons License A comment on yestersday's post got me thinking: Complaints about people not being who they "really" are, or having a name or identity different from their "real" selves are just admitting that SL just doesn't go far enough, yet. We're still not able to selfactualize fully. We're still pinned to bodies, and names, that we did not choose for ourselves but were assigned in a world that doesn't yet sufficiently yield to change. Ananda Sandgrain As a Vajrayana-school Buddhist, my view of virtual identities as being "real" has always been in the relative truth sense of the word. Since neither physical identity nor virtual identity inherently exists outside of the story-making mind, I saw them as equivalent. But for some reason, Ananda's comment hit me like a Zen Master's stick and I suddenly saw the question in a new way: "How can we be who we are by hiding what we are?" The associated images that filled my mine were of humans in real life situations wearing masks and voice changers, refusing to disclose personal information in settings such as their work, school and clubs. It seemed absurd. After reflecting on the question, I have a tentative answer that makes sense to me: There is a difference between "who you are" (the sentient being) and "what you are" (the aggregation of your physical aspects). Unfortunately, the perception of our essential self is distorted by the package we come in.

â&#x20AC;˘ The way we view ourselves is impacted profoundly by social identity. â&#x20AC;˘ The way we are viewed by others is commonly based upon a reflexive response to physical factors such as age, race and appearance; and social factors such as job, income and nationality. So by hiding what we are through a pseudonymous identity in a virtual world, it is possible to allow who we are to emerge, free from the baggage of judgements, labels and prejudices that are based on physical and social attributes. Now this does not mean that most people consciously use pseudonymity for that

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

315


purpose. But I suspect that the simple experience of seeing oneself in a new way acts to loosen the grip of psychological limitations we've acquired over the course of our physical lives. . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:29AM (-08:00)

New Video Of Preeminent Authority on Personas, Identity and the Mas... Thursday, February 25, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:22AM (-08:00)

Pseudonymity is Hard: Why Your Secret Virtual Identity Has Never Be... Saturday, February 27, 2010 While I reveled in a year of high-profile virtual pseudonymity, the human behind the scenes often felt like a fugitive. Constant vigilance was required to mitigate the risks of inadvertently revealing clues online that would connect the two identities. One slip and the game could be over. It doesn't take the proactive work of hackers or stalkers to blow your identity. As with most computer issues, user error is the most likely source of a problem. Here are a couple of easy ways to shoot yourself in the virtual foot: â&#x20AC;˘ Sending a social network status update from the wrong identity. I hate to admit it, but I made this careless mistake a few times. And the tweets weren't vague, but announcements of new blog posts. Fortunately, I noticed immediately, deleted the tweets and no one was the wiser. â&#x20AC;˘ Typing in the wrong chat window. I suspect that most of us have made this mistake. I've been lucky. The half dozen times this happened resulted in nothing more than a little embarrassment. Outside of such errors, there are many of ways to expose clues to your identity in day-today web surfing. Every time you view a website, information about you such as your IP address, the link you clicked to reach the site and your Internet Service Provider is passed along and probably logged. This is a problem when the information can be connected to your identity, such as in the case of the Plurk Hole I wrote about back in September, 2008. Peter Stindberg wrote today about a similar security hole exposed by the new media sharing feature of the Second Life client. The really insidious part of this particular "feature" is that your IP info can be pulled by just passing in the vicinity of the shared media. And someone with even a small amount of know-how can easily tie your avatar identity to the the IP-related information. Truth is, there is no absolutely certain way to hide your identity. The more active you are with a pseudonymous identity and the more you extend it through multiple social networks, blog commenting, etc., the more risk you take that someone will gather enough nuggets to make a connection.

316

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Personally, I always assumed my pseudonymity would eventually be compromised. I therefore chose to do nothing under the Botgirl identity that would negatively impact my human identity if it were ever revealed. Unfortunately, for some people, merely exposing the connection between the identities would cause harm. Outside of constant vigilance, you can reduce (but not eliminate) the risk of identity exposure by using a software program such as Tor or Anonymizer that can mask your IP address and other tell-tale information. Anyone else have tips on safe identity surfing? Or horror stories? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:13AM (-08:00)

skull speaks Monday, March 01, 2010 This is the latest botgirl/fourworlds video collaboration extending the narrative of the virtual identity concept through an anthropomorphized physical figurine. We're looking forward to moving this further by combining physical, virtual and mixed elements in future projects.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:13AM (-08:00)

Does Sharing a Link on a Social Network Imply Endorsement of the Co... Wednesday, March 03, 2010 "It's impossible to have a point of view in the electric age and have any meaning at all. You've got to be everywhere at once whether you like it or not. You have to be participating in everything going on at the same time. And that is not a point of view." Marshall McLuhan in 1967 A tweet yesterday proposed that sharing a link on Twitter implies an endorsement of the associated content. That's certainly not true for me. My decision to share something on a social network is based on how interesting I think it will be for my audience, not the degree to which it supports my own point of view. I often share links to posts that present opinions I don't agree with, services I don't use and positions I don't support. The World Wide Web has obliterated almost all of the external encumbrances that once made it difficult to access information beyond the scope of our own personal and cultural point of view. But our internal psychological barriers still remain and must be consciously challenged if we seek to transcend them. If you want to give it a try, commit to sharing at least one interesting link a day that's outside of your comfort zone. "If science proves some belief of Buddhism wrong, then Buddhism will have to change." H.H. The Dalai Lama . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:00AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

317


Brief Proof-of Concept Mixing External Animation into SL Machinima ... Thursday, March 04, 2010 This is my first tentative proof-of-concept playing around with the idea of integrating external video in an inworld Second Life machinima. It uses the new Media Sharing functionality that enables the flexible and interactive display of media directly on a prim. For this test, I stood in front of a large prim displaying my "skull speaks" video. Just for fun, instead of using Snapz Pro to capture video, shots were captured using a handheld iPhone's camera and then edited on the phone using Vintage Video Maker and ReelDirector. There's great potential in combining various types of external media within a realtime machinima capture. I hope to devote more time to this in the near future and put together something a bit more ambitious.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:26AM (-08:00)

Tragic Death of Baby Demands The Virtual World Community Dig Deeper... Saturday, March 06, 2010 I didn't click the link to the Gamer's Tot Dies of Starvation headline when it popped up in my virtual world feed on Thursday. I assumed it was a tabloid story making a dubious connection between the horrific death of a child and a parent's coincidental participation in an online game. Three days and hundreds of articles later it seems clear that there was a deep connection between the parents' participation in virtual worlds and the eventual neglect-induced death of their 3-month-old daughter. Although sensational headlines such as Girl starved to death while parents raised virtual child in online game are overly-simplistic, the underlying tragedy demands that those of us who are active in the avatar community dig deeper into our own virtual lives: • Does the time and energy we devote to online activity negatively impact our families to any substantive degree? Don't just say no. Ask them. • Are there any important physical world tasks that are being neglected while we spend time in virtual worlds? Career? Education? What else? • Is there an addictive or compulsive quality to our own use of virtual worlds, social networks or other online activity? Does the thought of being forced to spend a week totally off the network make you flinch? How about a month? A year? The most active and outspoken members of the avatar community are usually so focused on defending the legitimacy of virtual worlds that we tend to off-handedly shrug off these kind of questions. I think it's time we take a hard, clear-eyed look in the mirror. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:30PM (-08:00)

318

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Become Your Avatar: A Second Life Ad I'd Love to See Monday, March 08, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:10AM (-08:00)

Will Linden Lab's Change Efforts Destroy Second Life Culture as We ... Wednesday, March 10, 2010 Dusan Writer wrote a couple of posts last week that included a question about the impact of Linden Lab's technology and governance changes on Second Life Culture. After days of fruitless musing, I eventually realized that the main reason I was having such a hard time gaining clarity on the topic was that I didn't really know what the heck "Second Life Culture" meant. I poked around a bit and found a post by Lalo Telling, a smart SL blogger, describing Second Life culture as:

Commonality: shared experience; shared symbology and language; shared worldview; shared purpose; shared philosophies of what is "right behavior", and why, and how to coax it from people... in the case of Second Life, I'll even borrow from archaeology and include a shared "tool kit". The operative word, obviously, is shared. After contemplating that perspective, I came up with some concrete examples of "shared culture" that seem to be relatively universal within the Second Life population as a whole, such as: • Projecting into a 3D virtual world as an avatar. This is the oldest and most fundamental shared universal experience in Second Life. I can think of dozens of other cultural dimensions related to the sensorial experience of virtual embodiment, including teleportation vs. linear travel, visual POV that can be divorced from one's virtual body, etc. Many of these are tied to the dictates of the platform and client. • Using parentheticals to communicate imagined physical action that is not possible within the platform, i.e. "Botgirl smiles knowingly." There are quite a few unique textual communication customs such as brb/wb (be right back/welcome back). • A taboo against asking people to divulge personally identifying information they have Botgirl's Second Life Diary

319


not proactively disclosed. Cultural factors relating to purpose, meaning, ethics and activity seem to be much less universal and vary greatly between Second Life subcultures. That said, I think there are clusters of meaning-related culture within particular groups. I'll post soon with some concrete example of the relationship between changes Linden Lab might make in technology or governance, and particular subcultures within Second Life. A graphic is in the works, in keeping with my identity as a Venn Buddhist (a term coined by Lalo Telling). For now, it might be fun to take a look at the Second Life subcultures and Communities of Interest depicted in this mind map. What cultural differences and commonalities come to mind? It's on a wiki-like platform, so please feel free to tweak it.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:54PM (-08:00)

Second Life Culture 02: Platform as Evolutionary Force Sunday, March 14, 2010 The technology and governance of the Second Life platform don't just enable and shape culture, they are essential parts of culture itself. The platform environment is both the evolutionary force we must adapt to and the medium through which we act, interact and experience in the virtual world. For instance, avatar appearance forms a foundational basis for some of Second Life's key cultures such as furries, tinies and fashionistas. But the enabling technology is usually so taken for granted that its role is invisible. Without the ability to modify avatar size and shape and to create, buy, sell and use virtual clothing and attachments, those cultures would either not exist or would have expressed very differently. Our personal identities are also subject to changes in the platform and social environments. A significant measure of one's sense of personal identity is derived through social identity within the groups we belong to. Cultural changes therefore create changes in personal identity. Changes in the platform will inherently cause adaptive modifications of culture, which in turn will shape our sense of identity as avatars. Although it's impossible to predict where this is heading in the long run, it is possible make educated guesses about how particular changes might impact culture in the short term. I'll discuss some specific examples in an upcoming post. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:55AM (-07:00)

320

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


A Mini-Rant on Privacy and Identity Tuesday, March 16, 2010 One of the peculiarities of the electronic environment is that people become so profoundly involved in each other that they lose that sense of private identity. Marshal McLuhan The future McLuhan saw germinating in the late 1960s is growing like a weed today within the electronic garden of pervasive social networking. The identities we once fashioned within the isolation of our own nuclear-family homes, now live in the tribal consciousness of the global village. Our sense of personal identity cannot withstand the weight of the world peering at us through the SocialNet. We've put our privacy to the knife through a thousand small cuts, bleeding status updates upon the digital waters. And although we reflexively startle and panic when Facebook or Google pushes us deeper into the ocean, we have been swimming out to sea on our own just as hard and as fast as we can. So relax. Enjoy. And be aware. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:13PM (-07:00)

The Cloud of Unknowing Friday, March 19, 2010 I'm still thinking through the relationship between platform factors and cultural norms. I don't think that any particular modifications are going to cause dramatic overnight changes in the current pseudonymity-friendly environment. But I do suspect that in combination, they may eventually cause a cultural shift, as a growing percentage of avatars choose to disclose real life identity. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:30AM (07:00)

Botgirl and the Living Dead Doll Saturday, March 20, 2010 Here's another short concept video combining physical world and virtual world source material.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

321


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:57PM (-07:00)

Surfing Realities Through Juxtaposition of Physical and Virtual Wednesday, March 24, 2010 My ongoing reading of Marshall McLuhan has shed a lot of light recently on my own artistic work and inspired a new project. I'm going to share a few relevant quotes here, along with insights they sparked:

The hybrid or meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelation from which new form is born. Marshall McLuhan I've been led to combine elements from virtual and physical worlds since the beginning of my artistic life. After two years, I'm just beginning to appreciate the potential of such juxtapositions to reveal aspects of the psychological process of reality-creation that would otherwise be invisible. For instance, each primary element in the image above includes not only the entity itself (doll, keyboard, your's truly, etc.) but also the environment that we typically associate it with. The context of each component sheds light on the others.

One sure way to perceive the structure of any situation easily is to reverse its figure/ground relationship. Marshall McLuhan Botgirl and the Living Dead Doll is an example of how the mere visual fusion of normally disparate element can shift a viewer's consciousness through the gates of multiple fourth walls. One revelation for me that was uncovered through this multidimensional setting was the role of the computer screen as both window and barrier. New archetype is old clichĂŠ writ large. Marshall McLuhan I'm starting on a new project that will extend what I began in the Living Dead Doll video by combining the clichĂŠ of individual character forms in ways that will reveal the underlying archetypal energies. My plan is to take a transmedia approach that includes multiple mediums such as comics, video and photography. So please stay tuned.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:30AM (-07:00)

322

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Mini-Rant: Second Life is FarmVille and I Feel Fine Friday, March 26, 2010 Teleportation in virtual worlds lets you travel faster than the speed of light. Maybe that's why three or four years as a Second Life avatar leaves so many rezzerati waxing more nostalgic about the good old days than great-aunt Moonbeam on the 40th anniversary of her acid-drenched, mudcovered deflowering at Woodstock: "Before Philip sold out to The Man, Second Life was totally cool anarchy. It was a techno-sexual, Haight-Freaking-Ashbury, Felliniworthy wet dream for digitopian, art-making, prim-building, nube-griefing MoFos. Back then, when corporate clones brought their boring vanilla unambiguously-gendered asses into our world we'd show them the business end of a giant penis. But it's all gone to crap. M. is turning Second Life into FarmVille." Get over it. Second Life was destined to be FarmVille from the very first sim. Like every avant-garde scene in the physical world, by the time Nascar Dads show up looking for exotic punani the real cutting-edge has moved on. I say, let 'em have it. . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:08AM (-07:00)

Quick Look: Digimi Transworld Avatar Creator Saturday, March 27, 2010 Digimi is a new avatar creation provider, joining Evolver as a resource to create customized avatars that can be exported for virtual world and game platforms. I'll post a detailed review next week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:19PM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

323


Are we not 1984 Sheep? We are Brave New World Rats! Wednesday, March 31, 2010 Pervasive computing is like a giant Skinner Box. I've been working all week on a post about the shift from mass-media-fueled propaganda to the operant conditioning environment of pervasive social computing. It's taking a lot longer than expected, so for now, here's one of the images I've been working with as I VizThink my way through. The spark for this idea came from the following video:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

From Impotent Pissing and Moaning to Voting With Our Virtual Feet Thursday, April 01, 2010 Linden Lab has once again exercised its right to institute sweeping unilateral changes that negatively impact the avatar community. Recent modifications of the Terms of Service and Third Party View Policy erode and constrain resident options and expand legal claims by the Lab. I posted the image above exactly two years ago today. Since then I've watched wave after wave of unwanted policy changes burst upon our shores such as the Trademark Use Policy and OpenSpace Pricing Change. Each edict sparked a brief meaningless fury of impotent and incredulous pissing and moaning across the Second Life SocialNet and Blogosphere, shortly followed by business as usual. The good news is that this time around things may finally be different. Emigrating pioneers such as Zonja Capalani are being followed by more avatars who have awakened to the Lie of the SLand, realized that we don't own crap in Second Life and are voting with their virtual feet by shifting to other grids:

â&#x20AC;˘ Educational Institutions and Initiatives such as Jokaydia are expanding outside of Second Life to alternatives such as Reaction Grid; â&#x20AC;˘ Third-party Second Life client developers are limiting support of Second Life; and 324

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


â&#x20AC;˘ Victoriana's 13 sims are shutting down and may be reformed on an OpenSim Grid. Even venerable musician and blogger Grace McDonnough closed her last blog post with "See you around a grid." Once we can imagine our virtual lives extending beyond the Second Life grid, it's only a small leap to start moving our social capital and whatever digital assets we can move (by hook or by crook) to other domains.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:22PM (-07:00)

"Through the Looking Glass" Art Exhibition Opening in Six Countries... Monday, April 05, 2010 "Botgirl and Monk" One of my works in the show. The "mixed reality" portion of the multi-artist art exhibition I first wrote about back in March 2009 is finally opening April 7 in galleries in Italy, France, Holland, Germany, Brazil, the USA and Second Life. Through the Looking Glass will feature the work of more than twenty artists from around the world including comics, digital art and video from Yours Truly. I'll follow up later this week with details on shows outside of the United States. If you're in the Boston area, please consider attending the Grand Opening at the Harbor Gallery. . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:49PM (-07:00)

Don't Ask for Whom the Punch Line Tolls... Tuesday, April 06, 2010 On January 28th, I used this image of Carol Channing and her dummy as a visual punch line for the blog post headline: "The Future of Avatar Identity? Taking The Real You to its Logical Conclusion." LOL, right? Look what showed up on my human counterpart's desk today: That joke is not so funny anymore. After the months it took to finally talk sense into that other dummy, this dizzy blonde floppy-legged usurper appears on center stage trying to Botgirl's Second Life Diary

325


sit casually in my hard-earned limelight. Well, bring it on! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:00PM (-07:00)

Twinity Marketing Sheds Interesting Light on Second Life Thursday, April 08, 2010 These emails from Twinity arrived at the same time this morning. The top version came to me; the second went to Fourworlds. As you can see, they are either doing A/B mail testing (evaluating two or more versions by splitting them within a mailing list), or using different versions that target specific attributes, such as avatar gener, geography, etc. Although the body of the emails are identical, the headline and opening blocks each feature a unique offer. These are way more mainstream-targeted than even the most "I want my avatar to look like me" advertising for Second Life:

Have more fun with your friends â&#x20AC;&#x201C; with all new pair animations! For the first time we will have new animations that can be performed with another Twinizen! Let your avatar give a gift to another Twinzen and see the reaction! Meet up at a party and do a turn of the Tango together! Even for more passionate moments, we have something in stock, from just holding hands, kissing under mistletoe to even more private moments. From Twinity News And they're billing the two-wheeled Segway as "The Evolution of Movement": Evolution of Movement: after the ripping success of the skateboard, we upping the ante with a more modern and sophisticated form of transportation! The Zach, a self-balancing upright electro vehicle will be the whole new way to ride. Move through the city, in a regal position while enjoying the envious looks of others! From Twinity News So for all the flack we give Linden Lab for giving up its anything-goes youth, Second Life 326

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


still presents one of the most open and flexible virtual world options. For now, anyway.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:42AM (-07:00)

Who is More Powerful, the User or the Profile? Saturday, April 10, 2010 South Park really nails virtual vs. physical identity friction in "You have 0 Friends". You can watch the full episode on the South Park Website. Here's a brief clip that would fit perfectly in the Botgirl vs. Human series.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:03PM (-07:00)

Second Life Creatives as Digital Folk Artists. Plus Late Breaking V... Sunday, April 11, 2010 Folk Art: Art and objects made by people who are not artists, using styles and materials from where they live. The Museum Network As I was browsing through Raw Vision the other day, it occurred to me that most of us who make art in Second Life are not trained artists; and that the sculpture, machinima, images, fashion and other works we create can be classified as Folk Art or Art Brut. Seen via this point of view, Second Life can be viewed as the largest collection of Visionary Environments in the Worlds. That's pretty darn cool! From the very first choices one makes to name and form his or her avatar, Second Life provides an outlet for the subconscious to emerge through creative expression. Latent artistic abilities are activated through content creation tools that are integrated expressions of the physical environment. There is no separation between avatar, tool and art. ---I took a quick look at Google Buzz before hitting "Publish" for this post and saw a link from Peter Stindberg to an Alphaville Herald post about the Saga of Second Life video. I embedded it here because I think it relates directly to the question of how the changes in Second Life's direction over the last couple of years might impact its future ability to act as an artistic catalyst. What do you think?

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:00PM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

327


Quick Look at New iClone Avatar Builder Site Wednesday, April 14, 2010 You don't need to be Einstein to create an avatar using iClone Avatar Builder, but it's fun to play around with that idea. The new site is a private label version of Evolver, which I've reviewed here before. The unique aspect of the new version is the ability to export a complete avatar for use in iClone, which is a pretty cool 3D video making software program that has a pretty well-stocked content marketplace including avatars, props, etc. Here's a quick video from iclone, featuring the the avatar I created on the Avatar Builder site. I'll be following up in the next week with a step-by-step look at the avatar creation process. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:14PM (-07:00)

I Finally Solve My Supergirl Barbie Problem Monday, April 19, 2010 Those of you who follow this blog know that Supergirl Barbie has been a thorn in my virtual side for a very long time. Since my human counterpart would not be swayed by my threats, I decided to take matters into my own hands by hiring a pint-sized plastic mercenary to forcibly remove the little tramp. As you can see, the kryptonite enriched sword did the trick. Don't worry. We didn't harm a hair on her plastic head. She's in a very comfortable packing box on her way to a nice vacation in a Bangladesh orphanage. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:19AM (-07:00)

iClone Avatar Builder: High Speed Video Demo Friday, April 23, 2010 Here's a follow-up to last week's short post on iClone Avatar Builder. For this version, I recorded the entire process of creating an avatar, from uploading an image through importing into iClone and, then edited a version at 6oo%-800% realtime speed so as not to bore the crap out of you. Oh yeah. And please check out the beta preview of my new home blog: botgirl.com 328

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:18AM (-07:00)

I'm not Dead, Just Semi-Retiring: In Search of SLPurpose Wednesday, April 28, 2010 There's nothing I love better than to find a great novel that extends into an ongoing series. But no matter how great the initial volumes are, most serializations eventually get stale and repetitive. It's a rare fictional character who can stay fresh over the course of more than a half dozen outings. And in some cases, like the Anita Blake novels, the long tail ends up sucking the life out of a once vital character. If I were Anita Blake, I'd be wishing Ms. Hamilton had put me on ice about six books ago and only revived me when (or if) I had a fresh new purpose for existence (other than contributing to her bank account). Over the past six months or so, I've been having a harder and harder time finding an SLPurpose. And instead of letting my character and work drift into burn-out, mediocrity, self-plagiarism or mundanity, I'm going to semi-retire for the time being and only emerge when I have something worth sharing. This will likely mean less blog posts, comics, machinima, etc. for the near future. At least until I figure out the next compelling stage of my virtual life. It just occurred to me that this same process is true for a company. There's been a lot of fair criticism of Linden Lab recently for making changes that are moving Second Life away from the frontier-spirit of its genesis to a more controlled, family-friendly and boring version of itself. But in some sense, I think they are trying to find their own new SLPurpose without the luxury of being able to take a time-out. Or maybe not. Interesting to consider. Anyway, I'll still be out there most days on Twitter (@botgirlq). Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:27PM (-07:00)

The Power of Name in Post-Pseudonymous Virtual Identity Friday, April 30, 2010 Whatâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s in a name? That which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet; So Romeo would, were he not Romeo callâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d, Retain that dear perfection which he owes Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name, And for thy name, which is no part of thee, Take all myself. From Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

329


------------------------------As I was thinking earlier today about a post in Phasing Grace on Second Life culture, it occurred to me that the same sort of semiotic questions I had in the quest to identify and name a distinct virtual Second Life culture also applied to personal identity. In the mundane view of reality, a name is merely a word we use to label the particular entity that is specified. But the deeper truth is that a name plays a role in defining and maintaining our perception of the named object. At an even more profound level, a name actually brings the named into perceptual existence by separating a particular set of attributes from the universe into a discrete object or being. One of the things I value the most about virtual life, is its power to shed light on otherwise obscure or invisible aspects of physical life. In this case, avatar "brand names" that also have a publicly disclosed human identity bring to light the almost mystical connection between the name (signifier) and our mental concept (signified). For instance, although I know that on one level Dusan Writer= Doug Thompson, those two names still call up different metal models. Think of all of the well-known virtual identities you know with openly connected physical identities. Then go back and forth between speaking the avatar name and the human name and see what comes to mind and how it feels.For now, I am begging the question of what is "real" and only focusing on the action of names within our consciousness. Pretty wild! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:50AM (-07:00)

Being: Chapter One of an Experimental Approach to Blogging Tuesday, May 04, 2010 Here's my first go at a new approach to blogging. This post originated in a series of tweets yesterday on the topic of #being. I've made a few edits of my original tweets and added some additional content to flesh out the ideas: Embrace the past. If it feels alive then slay it because it should be dead. You have a zombie, vampire or ghost in your arms. The chief gift of my virtual birth two years ago was the imagined release of the past. Assuming nothing and questioning everything, I found my superpower. What's your superpower? Mine is a sense of wonder. Unfortunately, the purity of my birth has slowly become encrusted with fixed conceptions I've gathered along the way. For me, ideology is kryptonite. Your strongest opinions are your worst enemies. It's easy to see how other people's perception of "reality" is warped by their belief systems. Guess what? The same is true for you. And me. You are only present within the awareness of each moment. Finding youself is mostly a matter of paying attention. Although I've written a great deal about identity here, all of the intellectual musing in the world will not match the insight derived from relaxed selfawareness.

330

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Dichotomy of Digital Existence: No decay. No fixed form. If one has the eyes to see, the virtual world is the Heart Sutra brought to life. Creating. Consuming. Creating. Consuming. Creating. Consuming. Creating. Consuming. Creating. Consuming. Creating. My typical day is breathing out and then in. It's the space between breaths that I have been missing. The suspension of disbelief is more pervasive in mundane existance than it is in virtual life. It is just less conscious. Pay attention to the thoughts that spring up in reaction to the next five people you see. How many of them are true? Life is lived through a series of boxes that shape, constrain, protect, imprison, support, limit and define identity. What's inside when all of the boxes are gone? Inspiration never abandons me. It is I who turns from her warm living embrace to the cold dead arms of my own judgement. My chief place of worship is the blank page. Most externally directed judgement is merely a way to avoid facing and dealing with our own shit. Damn! One of the most difficult yet useful spritual exercises is turning one's pointing finger back at oneself. Wondering whether one of my multi-tasking activities can be meditation. This is a joke. I think.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:07PM (-07:00)

Flow: Finding Creative Balance in a Socially Networked Environment Wednesday, May 05, 2010 Flow is the term coined by Mihály Csíkszentmihály to describe "the mental state of operation in which a person in an activity is fully immersed in a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity". Today's post is based on yesterday's tweets tagged with the #flow hashtag. Most of our emotional pain comes from clinging to the past, fighting with the present or dreading the imagined future. It is born in the gap between what we believe should be true and what is. There's a world of difference between the thought "this sucks" and the idea "this SHOULD be different." Although flow is often thought of as requiring great expertise in the associated activity, it's usually the frustration with one's less-than-stellar skill that blocks flow, rather than any actual deficit. That said... After enough practice, tools disappear. Then the artist disappears. And then finally all that's left is the emergence of art. Someday I would love to have the time to master the full scope of the tools I use to create images, music and video. But until then, I've found

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

331


that making full use of what I currently know is usually enough to channel the muse's voice and vision into shareable reality. It's often better to surf across the waves than to swim against the tide. For those with an artistic passion, all experience can be used as grist for the mill. I've found that when I let go of how I think something should be, work emerges that is as good or better than what I originally envisioned. The SocialNet can sabotage the intrinsic Joy-of-Being when we trade fully enaged activity for reporting opportunities. This can be a really grey area for net-centric creatives. The relationship between artist and audience is much more pervasive, real-time and personal in a socially networked environment. The need to be seen can overshadow and subvert the flow of creative expression. Smugness isn't a virtue. It only feels like joy because it numbs your hungry heart for a moment. What is the relationship between page views, followers, retweets and happiness? Doesn't it seem silly to use such metrics to quantify self-worth or the validity of one's work? I nominate the fear of boredom as the eighth deadly sin. A lot of the compulsive behavior associated with social networking and media consumption stems from the fear of boredom. Boredom is the gatekeeper of creativity. Don't let it turn you away.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 03:25PM (-07:00)

This is Your Brain on Social Media Thursday, May 06, 2010 (image by Emilio Garcia under Creative Commons license.) I'm pretty convinced that the consistent and pervasive use of social media subtly shifts the mental ground of human consciousness. But as Marshall McLuhan often noted, our present environment is usually invisible. So I devoted most of yesterday's tweets to playing around with the medium through some tongue-in-cheek tweets considering some of the aspects we usually don't attend to. Today's post is based on yesterday's tweets tagged with

the #psychsoc hashtag. This is your brain on social media. There's a lizard and a chimp in your brain who don't really get net-centric social media. They interpret the interactions as if they were the meatspace analogues. So there are all kinds of bio-physical processes that can get activated in the course of your socially networked day that impact your experience of self and the world.

332

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


What are you looking for here? No. Try again. What are you REALLY looking for? People are attracted to social networking for many reasons, most of them probably unconscious. Humans are generally blind to the complexity of motivation behind their actions and social networking is no exception. You like me? You really like me! There is a subtle message of personal acceptance in the choice people make to follow or friend us on a social network. And vise-versa. Although this may be accurate in some cases, for those of us who socially network with strangers, there is a huge divide between perception and reality. The decision to follow or unfollow usually has little to do with the actual being we are. AntiGestalt: To the social network, you are equal to the sum of your posts. At least for those who only know us through our updates. It's funny, but unless I pay attention, I fall into the assumption that everyone who follows me on a social network has read and absorbed my two years of blog posts, machinima, comics, etc. FAIL. Ring that RT bell, dog! I'm ready for my positive reinforcement now. I've been noticing that the chime indicating a retweet or @reply has a more impact than the mere audible stimulus would otherwise induce. We are hunting, gathering and farming here. Each tweet is prey, plant and seed, depending upon one's perspective. Social media is the latest extension of ingrained behavioral processes that are as old a humankind. Warning! Do not read the rest of this tweet as it contains a subliminal mental virus. I'm not joking. I mean it. Zap! From a cultural perspective, the content of any social media post doesn't really matter. The medium is the message. And the message is not consciously perceived. Who are you really tweeting to? Go on. Spill it. You'll feel better. Although posts go out to one's entire list of followers (and potentially anyone on the internet), I suspect that many tweets have a particular person or subgroup as a target. I'm a hypnotwitst. Look deep into my tweets and count backwards from infinity to zero. Snap. You're awake! . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:25PM (-07:00)

Avatar as Vehicle of Enlightenment Monday, May 10, 2010 A comment by Gwyneth Llewelyn on "The Power of Name in Post-Pseudonymous Virtual Identity" revived my interest in the avatar as a vehicle of enlightenment. Here's my first post in what I hope will be a series of brief explorations: The visceral experience of being embodied in an idealized form within a richly symbolic environment is a foundational Vajrayana Buddhist practice. During meditation, practitioners may visualize themselves as an enlightened being such as the Bodhisattva Tara represented in the image above. This allows an individual to make the perceptual leap to an enhanced recognition of their Buddha-nature and spontaneously transform Botgirl's Second Life Diary

333


harmful ingrained mental models. An avatar-based three-dimensional virtual world has the potential to enhance and support visualization practice through a rich sensory environment. Although the images surrounding a deity in a thangka is painted in a two-dimensional form, the iconic representation is merely a mnemonic device to support what is ideally a deeply imagined three-dimensional visualization. I think that creating a virtual thangka with all of its rich detail would be an invaluable aid in visualization practice. I don't have the building chops at this time to pull that off, but would love to hear from interested builders and artists. As a matter of fact, I think I'm going to create a two-dimension avatar thangka for my next post on this topic. Should be an interesting journey!

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:45AM (-07:00)

Digital Shamanism: The Psychological Dimension of the Transworlders... Tuesday, May 11, 2010 Most of us tend to ignore the deeper dimensions of being that hide beneath our mundane states of mind. It struck me today that the idea of "Transworlders" not only applies to movement between virtual worlds, but also to travel through inner worlds and states of consciousness. And even to what might be thought of as "digital shamanism." There is an essential mystery at the heart of life, awareness and identity. Although to our habitual state of perception we live in an atomic, isolated and disconnected universe, if we look more deeply, the entire world and everything in it can be viewed as what Thich Nhat Hanh calls a web of interbeing: “If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-“ with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be.

334

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Thich Nhat Hanh, From “Peace is Every Step” As the concept of interbeing is applied to virtual worlds, we can begin to see that the solid appearing boundaries between human and avatar; atomic and virtual; corporate and artistic; and so on, are fictional expressions of our collective mental models. So, for instance, there is no conflict between the perspectives of "augmentation" and "immersion" in virtual worlds. In fact, they are interdependent concepts. Extending further, our avatars can not only be viewed as vehicles that take us from the human world to the virtual world, or as emergent identities that live within an immersive environment, but also as expressions of deep archetypal energies that transcend both concepts. I tried to express some of the mystery of this approach in the image at the top of this post. That's it for now. Hope to post more on this line of inquiry soon. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:46AM (-07:00)

New Video: A Brief Meditation on Digital Shamanism Thursday, May 13, 2010 Extending ideas from the last couple of posts, this video plays around with the idea of using virtual reality to support internal visualization and imagination. In good Transworlders fashion, it was created using elements from Second Life, Frameforge and digital photography of the atomic world.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:45PM (-07:00)

What's Behind The Recent Focus on Second Life Culture Monday, May 17, 2010 Culture has become an increasingly vital topic in the Second Life blogosphere over the last six months or so. This issue has emerged in response to an unprecedented series of actual and anticipated changes in technology and governance that will likely impact the status quo of almost every Second Life sub-culture and community of interest. We are therefore working to distinguish which aspects of Second Life are crucial to the continuity of the groups we care about. We are also considering whether what we personally hold dear in Second Life has a value to the wider world. The recent focus on the cultural aspects of Second Life is at least partially an attempt to articulate in understandable terms a worth that seems self-evident to participants. After reading many of the recent posts and comments on the topic, I have couple cautions about the use of the Second Life Culture meme: • The use of the concept of culture as an argument for policy decisions has a lot of emotional baggage. It can therefore stimulate knee-jerk reactions that are neither relevant to the Second Life discussion, nor conducive to clear thinking. • Culture is such a complex and broad concept that it tends to stimulate conversations that are more about semantic disagreement than clear examinations of the salient Botgirl's Second Life Diary

335


conditions, causes and effects related to the actual issues. Despite these concerns, I believe that the recent focus on culture has added a useful dimension to our ongoing conversation about Second Life. For the best overview of the discussion to date, along with excerpts and links to key posts from Second Life bloggers, see Grace McDunnough's Search for A Second Life Culture or Omphaloskepsis.) . Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:50AM (-07:00)

Replacement Candidate for Augmentation vs. Immersion Paradigm Wednesday, May 19, 2010 As I was trying to gain some insight on the issue of Second Life Culture earlier this week, the long-standing "Augmentation vs. Immersion" paradigm kept nagging at me. It's another Second Life topic that is plagued by ambiguous terms that often confuse more than clarify the underlying issues. As a good Venn Buddhist and VizThinker, I thought through the concept using a chart. One axis reflects the number of human identity-centric relationships and business dealings. The other is for one's avatar identity-centric activities. This ended up providing four quadrants that I propose as replacements for Augmentation and Immersion:

1. Anthropic: Their Second Life activity is related to human identity. RL identity is in their SL profile. They use Second Life within their RL job, interact with their human friends within the virtual world, etc. 2. Avatarian: Their Second Life activity is separated from human identity. They do not openly associate their avatar and human identities in any way. 3. Multiplist: They have a mix of human-centric and avatar-centric relationships and activities within Second Life. 4. Dabbler. Just to fill out the chart, I labeled the quadrant of those with very few relationships and activities of any kind. So I offer "Anthropic vs. Avatarian" to replace "Augmentation vs. Immersion". What do you think? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (-07:00)

336

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Death of the Digital Person in Second Life: An Old School Botgi... Sunday, May 23, 2010 After playing virtual world philosopher all last week, I'm done. Fuck the semantics. Fuck the reductionism. Fuck the whole postmortem. Because that's what it's been. An intellectual autopsy. The utopian dream of the transcendent Digital Person is stone cold dead. Killed not by the hand of Linden Lab, but by the silent testimony of our dear departed brothers and sisters; those whose virtual lives shined so hot and bright that they threatened to burn-out their human hosts if not extinguished. I awoke in Second Life two years ago into a climate a virtual revolution. At its center was the Independent State of Extropia, a hotbed of intellectual ferver, utopian idealism and walk-your-talk activism. At that time, the leading voice in the Immersionist movement was Extropia co-founder Sophrosyne Stenvaag. Although the details of her story are unique, I believe the rise and fall of her virtual life reflects a common trajectory. Soph was one of the rare individuals in any world living a life dedicated to the actualization of her highest ideals. While today we trade lukewarm snarkiness about the Mainland's remaking through the post-adult retro-suburbanism of Linden Homes, in the summer of 2007 Sophrosyne railed with outrage at the mere idea of a conventionallooking structure in Second Life. She expressed the intimate interbeing of the Virtual World and the Digital Person when she wrote: Building some Newport Beach condo, or a mall that looks like, well, a mall - is forcing the atomic world into a place it's not meant to fit. It's a little rape of our world's autonomy, selfhood, uniqueness. Treating us - whether we call ourselves Digital Persons, Artificial Persons, whatever, or just any of the people in our world - as masks for an atomic world person - well, that's exactly the same kind of thing. It's griefing, it's a profound violation of our selfhood in our world. This admittedly radical perspective stemmed from the premise that Digital People are the rightful indigenous natives of the virtual world because they are a genuinely emergent form of sentient life, rather than mere augmentations of human identifies. In a January '08 blog post she wrote, I'm not someone playing a role, or manipulating an avatar like a chesspiece or a mask I speak from behind. I'm not anything but what I seem to be. At the dawn of 2008, Sophrosyne was at the forefront of both the personal and professional expression of virtual identity. In the public domain, she was the chief promoter and facilitator of a wide-ranging series of Extropian conferences and salons featuring notable scientists, religious leaders, business people and artists. Behind the scenes in her private life, Soph and her polyamourous quad family group pushed the boundaries of loving committed relationship. A year and a half later, Sophrosyne and two out of her three family members had left Second Life (you can read her swan song here) and posts stopped appearing on the Extropia blog. I've seen this cycle in the lives of many avatars who endeavored to create full lives as Digital People. It seems the average lifespan between awakening and virtual seppuku is

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

337


9 to 18 months. The exceptions are mostly those whose physical lives do not require a great deal of time and creative energy. In essence they choose to make Second Life the primary life. Of course some or all of the departed may have reincarnated into new avatars and/or sneak back once in a while. But I suspect that in those cases, the new lives are shadows of their former selves. Perhaps the moral of the story is not that the ideal of the Digital Person is dead, but merely that the life expectancy of the virtual species is very short. Or that the flowering of virtual identity may be destined to fall back into the biological ground from which it was born. The mystery continues. For now, I leave you with this video memorial to the the golden days of the Independent State of Extropia in Second Life. Although the backing track is Jim Carroll's "People Who Died", many of the avatars pictured in this video are still living. What died is the Extropian dream. (Images used in this video were borrowed from many people's publicly searchable Flickr photos.)

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:00PM (-07:00)

Is Second LIfe a Second-Best Surrogate to Fill Voids in Human LIfe? Friday, May 28, 2010 In a comment on my last blog post, Peter Stindberg wrote "...the void that SL filled now gets filled by other things." I found it curious that he chose the word "void" and asked him to share more about what he meant by the term. A few days later, he expanded the idea in a long post titled "Of Voids", describing how an unexpected upturn in his RL caused "the significance of SL to drop overnight". He wrote,

I had the need for a respectful, appreciative environment. I did not get it in my RL, but found it in SL. So I became addicted to SL. Now I work for a company that WANTS me, that CHOSE me out of countless applicants, that NEEDS my skills, that WANTS my creativity, that gives me freedom, recognition and trust - and by this fills the void that SL used to fill. From "Of Voids" by Peter Stindberg The use of "void" still grated on me for some reason, so I decided to explore it with Visual Thesaurus, a web-based tool that maps word relationships. from Visual Thesaurus The main thing that struck me in the resulting image was that many of the words related to "void" are commonly used to demean virtual identity, relationships and activities... It's not real. It's a false identity. It doesn't really exist. The aha moment was the realization that when people perceive a void in their human lives, the same ideas are often applied

338

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


to themselves (at least subconsciously). What is the relationship to one's wholeness as a person and factors such as: • interaction with the external environment • the perceptions of other people • relationships • accomplishments Do these factors merely create a psychological narrative that make up a story we believe about self-worth and wholeness? Or is there some objectively real empty void in our "self" that must be filled through activity in the virtual or physical worlds? Is Second Life simply a second-best surrogate people use to fill what they perceive to be voids in their human lives? Or do virtual worlds offer equivalent or even enhanced opportunities for selfrealization? If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know my answers. What are your's'? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:30AM (-07:00)

Additional Chart Views of Anthropic-Avatarian Continuum Saturday, May 29, 2010 In the original chart, the labels in the boxes were meant to be a handy way to track and discuss how groups of people tended more towards one quadrant or the other. The charts below are each an example of how a particular person's activities and relationships can be examined, using the same basic paradigm. The main conceptual addition in this draft is an axis that tracks how significant a relationship or activity is to the individual in question. For example, casual acquaintances versus close friends, or shopping versus art creation. The other axis tracks how independent each activity or relationship is from human identity. A relationship on the left might be a RL coworker or family member. The far right would include those who have no knowledge of RL identity. The circles tagging activities and relationships takes the place of the quantity axis in the original chart. I was planning to work on this idea more and still haven't got around to it. But after the New World Notes reference yesterday, I thought it made sense to move them here to address the new comments there. Please send any suggestions for the next draft, including links to images.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:15AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

339


Enough philosophy. Here's the very first botgirlq dance video. Monday, May 31, 2010 When Socrates said, "the unexamined life is not worth living", he didn't mean the kind of pervasive examination enabled by the microscopic hyper-focused mirror of constant blogging, micro-blogging and social sharing. After getting a well-deserved roast by Dusan Writer yesterday, I realized I've been taking things a bit too seriously lately and it was time to lighten up. So here's a higher-res version of a video from a post from my blog's first month that was headlined: "Enough philosophy. Here's the very first botgirlq dance video."

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:06AM (-07:00)

The Dreaded Box Tuesday, June 01, 2010 it is funny how we continue to want to live "inside the box" . . . categories do not define the human very well. From a comment by Ener Hax on the Anthropic/Avatarian Chart. I used the quote above as inspiration for a day of tweets mulling the idea of #insideabox. Here's an edited and enhanced version of what I came up with: When you're thinking outside "the" box you're still thinking #insideabox. Meditational awareness can be outside the context of boxes, but the minute you put it into words you're back in boxland. Thought depends upon categorization. Language inherently differentiates, categorizes and labels. The moral of this slow motion tweet rant is that we're always #insideabox and #outsideabox until the #nobox of enlightenment. Conceptual boxes are like infinite Russian dolls.I love the heady rush of a new insight as much as anyone, but every time I break out of one limited point of view I'm breaking into

340

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


another. That's neither bad nor good, just the nature of the beast. A map isn't the territory. Treating concepts as reality is like driving a car with a map covering the windshield. So one danger in seeing any insight as "THE TRUTH" is that you stop reality testing. -------Objectification isn't seeing someone as a person in a box, but rather seeing the box as being the person.It's the difference between saying, "Botgirl is an Avatarian" and "All Avatarians are lunatics, so Botgirl is a lunatic." The latter is especially harmful when used to support the oppression of people by race, gender, sexual preference, religion, etc. -------A monk's cell. A mother's womb. A martial arts form. A committed relationship. A musical key. A choreography. All are boxes. Boxes are temporary and flexible containers. Problems come when we treat them as rigid and eternal structures. Is 140 charactors a box we're inside of or a means to transcend habitual thinking? User experience will vary. I've found that the solid limitations of box can be the solid ground I use to lift myself out of habitual perspectives and ways of doing things. If you want to keep tabs on my ongoing Twitter experiments, please give me a follow.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:55AM (-07:00)

Creating Ourselves in the Minds of Others Through Social Networks Friday, June 04, 2010 This following is an edited compilation of my tweets from June 2 on the topic: The Psychology of Social Networking (#psysn). The image is from a January 2009 post. Every single tweet we send, no matter what its overt topic, is part of an ongoing story we are telling about ourselves. Part of the addictive nature of social networks is the compulsion to stay alive in the minds of our audience. We've transformed ourselves psychologically from private citizens to public figures on the stage of the social network. Pervasive self-disclosure via social networks leads us to experience less the life we live and more the story we tell.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

341


The net-privacy we seek is the power to manage the story we tell the world about ourselves. Of course, the story we try to tell may be different than the story that's received. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:29AM (-07:00)

The Dance of Identity Through the Networked World Monday, June 07, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:00PM (-07:00)

My Take on Linden Lab's "New Direction" for Second Life Wednesday, June 09, 2010 In a tweet this morning I wrote that "the immersive 3D world paradigm is antithetical to the dominant trend in ubiquitous computing." As I was writing a post to flesh out the idea, I saw today's press release from Linden Lab announcing two long term goals that articulated a new direction for Second Life:

First, the company aims to create a browser-based virtual world experience, eliminating the need to download software. Secondly, Linden Lab will look to extend the Second Life experience into popular social networks. Ultimately, we want to make Second Life more accessible and relevant to a wider population. Wow! They really jumped on my insight. Okay, I probably had nothing to do with it. But as much as I detest the idea of Second Life being transformed and homogenized to cater to the Farmville-playing masses, it's probably the only business decision they could make with half a chance to break out of the niche market ceiling they've been rubbing up against. Over the years, many of us in the Second Life community have felt like we've been pioneering the future of networked culture. But I've been growing increasingly convinced 342

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


that the direction the future has actually taken over the past few years is in a direction that is not compatible with the walled-garden, hyper-immersive virtual world paradigm of Second Life as we know and love/hate it. The socially-networked, continuously multi-tasking, pervasively connected, attentiondeficit inducing, mobile-device focused world that is emerging doesn't have much room for a virtual world that requires downloaded software with a huge learning curve that only runs well on a high end computing system. And it seems pretty far fetched to ask teens who average a text message every fifteen waking minutes to pay attention long enough to be immersed in a virtual world like Second Life. I plan to post more on this topic in the near future. Until then, the best explanation I've seen of the emerging network culture trend is in The Shallows: What The Internet is Doing to Your Brain, by Nicholas Carr. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:00PM (-07:00)

Sad, Surrealistic and Utterly Second Life Friday, June 11, 2010 I took this photo at a memorial created by Codebastard Redgrave to honor the casualties of Linden Lab cost-cutting. It was a surrealistic scene: dearly not-yetdeparted Lindens mingling with mourners attired in not-caught-dead-in-at-a-funeral outfits, all wickedly lagging semi-rezzed through a vista of neon-lit tombstones, blankly staring teddy bears and bondagewear advertisement posters. The thing is, what would be a bizarre freak show to the Farmville-loving masses Linden Lab hopes to attract through its layoff-funded initiative, was actually a deeply moving experience for those of us who attended. It felt as if we were not only gathered to mourn the loss of Linden employees, but also the possible passing of the Second Life culture they were instrumental in building. I have to wonder whether a native culture that is based upon the open-minded, allembracing celebration of diversity will survive an onslaught of RL-named, identityverified, photo-realistic avatars streaming in on their smart phones. Time will tell. If you can't go to the actual memorial in Second Life, please check out Stuart Warf's excellent silent machinima. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

343


Now for Something Completely Different: Big Bad Blogger Challenge -... Sunday, June 13, 2010 This is the first of a week of posts for the Big Bad Blogger Challenge 2010:

The BBBC started in 2008 as a way to give SL bloggers a little kickstart, and give people something to read. But it turned into a great sharing opportunity! We've really had a fun time the past couple of years . . . The Big Bad Blogger Challenge for June: Update your blog every day for one week starting June 13th, and the last challenge post will be June 18th. Alicia Chenaux. Today's Topic: Why did you become a blogger? How has it enriched your life? My first thought when I read today's topic was to wonder about the difference between the questions, "Why did you become a blogger?" and "Why did you start writing your blog?" I named this blog "Botgirl's Second Life Diary" because it started out mostly as a personal journal. I suspected it might someday have an audience. I wrote to an imagined reader. But in the beginning I was happy writing for myself and the handful of people who stumbled by from time to time. I didn't really think of myself as "a blogger". Everything changed a month later when a post with the headline Who Is Botgirl? hit New World Notes. I learned about it when I glanced at my daily SiteMeter report and the typical single digit view count had jumped into the hundreds. It turned out that the Hamlet guy I'd traded emails with about a video I'd posted on YouTube was the publisher of the largest blog covering Second Life. The very first time I really felt like "a blogger" was when I hit the "Publish Post" button the next day. Although I've gone through slumps from time to time, I now consider blogging to be a primary spiritual practice. It provides ongoing motivation to go beyond the surface of life experiences and dive deep into the unknown, and a place to share whatever insights I glean with like-minded people around the world. Oh yeah. It's also a great way to raise a little hell from time to time.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:45PM (-07:00)

BBBC #2: Where I Eventually Get On-Topic About 3 Good Things in My ... Monday, June 14, 2010 Welcome to the second of seven posts for the Big Bad Blogger Challenge. Here's today's assignment:

It's really easy to be negative in your life - first or second. Sometimes we get so bogged down by the things that are bad, we forget to remember all that is good. SL Bloggers Write about three positive things going on in your Second Life. RL Bloggers - Write about three positive things going on in your life. 344

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Hmm. I'm not sure of the boundary between "SL Blogger" and "RL Blogger". Is it whether you blog under human or avatar identity? Or whether your blog's primary topic area is atomic or virtual? SL Bloggers are instructed to write about their Second Life. RL bloggers are asked to blog about their small "l" life. When someone posts into the digital space of Twitter from their human identity, is that virtual life? If I order a book from Amazon and send it to you from my avatar identity, is that real life? Curiouser and curiouser. Like the atomic world itself, identity is something that ends up having no solid, independent and definitive structure once you hack into it deeply enough. Neither does the real vs. virtual split. It's all about how you look at it. Wave or particle? Real or virtual? So here's my story: I'm a fictional character living a real life. I (the voice that is speaking in your head right now) don't have an atomic world body, or an actual history before my RezDay. But the consciousness that perceives a visceral sense of Botgirl's individuated personhood is not much different than that of the atomic world counterpart. Okay, I know what you're thinking: "Botgirl, can't you just answer a simple freaking question?" Obviously not! But in the team spirit of the BBBC, here goes: THREE POSITIVE THINGS GOING ON IN MY LIFE by Botgirl Questi 1. I'm really enjoying a new sense of being part of a community of people who are seeking to discern greater truth, instead of promoting a self-serving, pre-conceived or partisan agenda. I've been blown-away by the depth, insight and sincerity of bloggers responding to the recent Linden Lab lay off announcements. And also those who have commented. Crap Mariner was kind enough to put together an archive of links to blog posts on the topic. 2. I got a very big kick out of finding out (after the fact) that I'd been referenced in a published academic paper and that my Anthropic/Avatarian Chart was discussed on a recent Metanomics show. I often feel like I'm way out in left field, so the validation was really gratifying. 3. I'm loving the almost complete lack of negative drama in my life. The only downside is that I have no one else to blame when I'm in a bad mood.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:23PM (-07:00)

BBBC #3: Relationships Tuesday, June 15, 2010 Today's Big Bad Blogger Challenge topic is "Relationships"

SL Bloggers - How hard do you think it is to find a relationship in SL? If you have an SL relationship, have you met in the physical world? Would you meet them? Do you think it would change your SL relationship if you met? RL Bloggers - Would you start a relationship with someone you met online? Would you have a problem telling people that's where you met? Do you think it's easier to meet Botgirl's Second Life Diary

345


someone online rather than at work or at a club? Visual Thesaurus view of "relationship" There are many types of relationship. I think today's topic implies the romantic version. To answer today's question, I think that good relationships in any world are hard to find and take conscious effort to maintain. Although I've never had a virtual relationship, I've closely observed the ongoing SLoap Opera from my very first week and have written about it pretty extensively. Here's an excerpt from an August 2009 Post, Love Lies and Avatars: Unfortunately, humans are stuck with a biology that doesn't differentiate between virtual and actual experiences. As I've noted before, once those love chemicals start getting cranked out in your body, it's likely you'll believe the sweet lies they tell you. You'll associate the blissful feeling of the love drugs with the experience of the other person's avatar. Even though you "know better." Of course, it's possible you'll be lucky enough to fall in love with one of the real life supermodels who are so common in virtual worlds. Or maybe, your passion will survive the cognitive dissonance between the idealized avatar and the all-too-human form of your soul mate. There are certainly a number of virtual relationships that successfully extended to the physical world. But the odds are very, very long. I'll leave you today with one of my videos on the topic: Primates in Virtual Worlds

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:00PM (-07:00)

BBBC #4: "Age" - Is There a Psychosocial Lifecycle for Avatars? Wednesday, June 16, 2010 Shockwave Plasma is the latest high-profile avatar to "retire" from Second Life. After four and a half years of virtual life, she wrote:

"For some time I have found SL draining, and it's also starting to become dull, I just can't find things to do and I just feel I'm wasting my time. I don't know if this is because the people I grew up with are gone, or I'm just not making new friends, or both." After reading her post and reflecting on the many others I've known who have either left Second Life or drastically reduced their virtual activity, it struck me that there's probably a psychosocial lifecycle for avatars that mirrors Erikson's stages for humans: 1. Hope: Trust vs. Mistrust (Infants, 0 to 1 year) 2. Will: Autonomy vs. Shame & Doubt (Toddlers, 2 to 3 years) 3. Purpose: Initiative vs. Guilt (Preschool, 4 to 6 years) 4. Competence: Industry vs. Inferiority (Childhood, 7 to 12 years) 5. Fidelity: Identity vs. Role Confusion (Adolescents, 13 to 19 years) 6. Love: Intimacy vs. Isolation (Young Adults, 20 to 34 years) 7. Care: Generativity vs. Stagnation (Middle Adulthood, 35 to 65 years) 8. Central tasks of Middle Adulthood 9. Wisdom: Ego Integrity vs. Despair (Seniors, 65 years onwards) I suspect that one reason many of us initially found virtual life so rewarding was that it allowed us to work through one or more of the developmental stages we had not yet mastered in human life. But no matter how rewarding our initial months or years are in 346

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


avatar form, there eventually comes a time when the honeymoon is over and we find ourselves struggling through waste deep mud instead of flying unhindered towards our heart's desire. It's very easy to give up at this point and lose faith. There are many reasons this ennui or disillusionment can happen. In some cases we have taken virtual experience in an area as far is it can go. For instance, an intimate relationship that one of the participants needs to extend to human identity. Or it could be that we reached a point of development in one of the areas where hard (and perhaps unpleasant) work is required to break through to the next stage. For instance an artist whose initial creative work has grown stale. Whatever the underlying cause, it is not surprising that when we reach the point where we feel stuck and can not see any light at the end of the tunnel, we choose to get out of Digital Dodge in search of the new frontier. Perhaps that's a good strategy. Or maybe we would be better off persevering through the long dark night of the virtual soul. Because whatever barrier we must transcend to reach the next level of development, we will need to face it in whatever world we run to. Oh yeah. Today's Big Bad Blogger Challenge topic is "What's my age again?"

SL Bloggers - Is your avatar more or less your current biological age? Do you portray a younger avatar, or older? Why is this? RL Bloggers - Do you lie about your age? Do you think you act your age? Are you where you thought you'd be at your current age? Answer: I'm a fictional character without a biological age. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:20AM (-07:00)

BBBC #5: Davinci, McLuhan, Jesus and Me Thursday, June 17, 2010 A little over a year ago, I explored the message of the Second Life medium at it relates to Marshall McLuhan's well known probe, "The medium is the message". A couple of days ago while contemplating Second Life's uncertain future, I realized that the medium I should have considered is the 3D Virtual World paradigm, rather than any particular instance. The future of avatarian existence is not in the hands of Linden Lab, or any other company or platform. From the time an early human figured out she could use a stick to dig up insects to eat, people have been extending their biology through technology. From the phonetic alphabet to the digital computer, each new medium radically transformed human psychology and culture. I believe that the experience of avatar embodiment in 3D virtual worlds will eventually become as common and pervasive as today's use of cell phones and social networks. Recent experiments have shown that the brain does not differentiate between virtual and Botgirl's Second Life Diary

347


physical experience. When avatar experience becomes as common as surfing the web, humans will be able to free themselves from fixed notions of identity that have fostered sexism, racism and other biologically-related oppression. Although I'm not sure of the path, I have a strong sense that it will also provide a means of spiritual transcendence. The quote in the image above from the gnostic "Gospel of Thomas" seems quite prophetic:

Jesus said to them, "When you make the two into one, and when you make the inner like the outer and the outer like the inner, and the upper like the lower, and when you make male and female into a single one, so that the male will not be male nor the female be female, when you make eyes in place of an eye, a hand in place of a hand, a foot in place of a foot, an image in place of an image, then you will enter [the kingdom]." (Today's Big Bad Blogger Challenge topic was "Blogger's Choice".) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:30AM (-07:00)

BBBC #5 - The End Friday, June 18, 2010 This is the last topic for the Big Bad Blogger Challenge. Thanks to Alicia Chenaux for sponsoring the event.

If this is your first BBBC... What did you get out of your experience? Do you think it will change the way you blog in the future? One thing I learned about blogging from the BBBC is that any initial topic can provide a spark to ignite the creative process. A meaningful dimension will emerge through the process of writing (or creating a graphic), even if there's nothing evident at the start. I also noticed that blogging from a topic I didn't select involved an inner negotiation between the commitment to be responsive to the intended subject, while still being true to the sometimes barely related direction it inspired. It was a very interesting experience. As for the future, although I've long worshipped the blank virtual page, I've never tried picking a random topic as a starting point. I will likely play around with that method from time to time. Thanks to those who accompanied me on this week-long walk through the unknown. Your regular programming will resume on Monday. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:50AM (-07:00)

"Dolls for Decency" Response to Nude Barbie Ban in Second Life Monday, June 21, 2010 The original post can be found on Joonie's Journal. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:41AM (-07:00)

348

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Sinful Flesh Completely Covered Mr. Linden Sir! (NSFW????) Wednesday, June 23, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:51AM (07:00)

Second Life Censorship 101: Clear Example of non-PG Use of Barbie i... Thursday, June 24, 2010 My last artistic statement on the recent censorship in Second Life.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:55AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

349


From M to P: Editorial Cartoon on Second Life CEO Change Friday, June 25, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:01AM (07:00)

Completely Disconnected From Reality Monday, June 28, 2010 Fact of the matter is that Second Life has a bunch of people who are weird, sick, twisted, freakish, deranged or completely disconnected with reality. From blog post by Prad Prathivi I beg your pardon, Prad! COMPLETELY disconnected? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:23AM (-07:00)

FriendsHangout Launches Virtual World Builder That Runs in Your Bro... Wednesday, June 30, 2010 FriendsHangout launched their Virtual World Builder today. It uses the Unity 3D platform, so it runs right in your browser. They have a small virtual goods store and a developers program. Avatars can be created with Evolver and then exported to FriendsHangout. I didn't have much time to do more than create an initial world, try out the terraforming and add a few items, but you can check it out here as a guest, or view this short video.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:46PM (-07:00) 350

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Mirror World Twinity Gets its Pole Dance On! Friday, July 02, 2010 As Second Life has been moving in a more conservative direction, Twinity seems to be pushing the envelope of its "Powered By Real Life" tagline. I received an email today that included the image above. Now that I think of it, mirror worlds don't have to be all museums and landmarks. Maybe in the future we'll see a virtual Amsterdam with a Red Light district and decriminalized digital drugs. Maybe not. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:13AM (-07:00)

Second Life Marketing and Brand Challenge: Picture is Worth 1000 Words Tuesday, July 06, 2010 These are screen captures from the home pages of Second Life and three competitors. So what is Second Life's unique brand identity? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:45AM (-07:00)

Second Life AdSense Marketing Leverages Recent Twilight Movie Opening Tuesday, July 06, 2010 Here's one more set of images related to today's earlier post on virtual world marketing and branding. These are screen captures of two current ads running through Google AdSense. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:24AM (07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

351


Anthropomorphism: Short Example 1 Thursday, July 08, 2010 Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human characteristics to animal or non-living things, phenomena, material states and objects or abstract concepts. Wikipedia Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:55AM (-07:00)

The Trinity of Virtual Life Activity Monday, July 12, 2010 Just about everything one can do within a virtual world can be categorized somewhere in the chart above. I suspect that our virtual experience becomes a virtual life (within a particular world such as Second Life) when we spend a fair amount of time somewhere near the sweet spot of the center. Quite a few people I've met over the last few years in Second Life have either left the world or expressed a pervasive malaise that makes them wonder why they bother to keep going back. I've experienced this myself. I now think my personal ennui is largely due to my movement towards the green periphery over the last year. How is your virtual experience balanced? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:25AM (-07:00)

Video Commentary on "Transworld Syndrome" Thursday, July 15, 2010 Video commentary on posts by Lalo Telling and sororNishi on the "Transworld Syndrome", which is the tendency for those with avatar identities to maintain a consistent form across worlds such as Second Life, OpenSim, Twinity, etc.

Video created using iClone. Botgirl avatar transported from Evolver. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:51AM (-07:00)

352

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Coaching Philip: Behind the Scenes Preparation for Key Second Life ... Monday, July 19, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:00AM (-07:00)

The Now of the NetStream: Facts vs Story; Platform vs Muse Wednesday, July 21, 2010 The river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth...in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere, and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past, nor the shadow of the future. from Siddhartha by Herman Hesse I am a child of the NetStream where the eternal present rules, subsuming both past and future in its infinite flow. Although this is most obvious in the ceaseless aggregated tide of the social network and newsreader, the now also dominates each individual blog, not only for the readers but for the writers as well. So it was only through an impulsive browse through my recent posts, that I realized that: a) almost every one was primarily visual or audio-visual; and b) they were created through over a half dozen platforms: • • • • • • •

Assorted RL action figures and dolls in a comic and a video iPad sketches FriendsHangout video iClone video GoAnimate video OmniGraffle chart Web screen capture

Facts vs. Story In retrospect, I see my ongoing shift to imagery as an expression of my ever-growing belief that visual storytelling is a much more effective means to communicate than textual argument. I'll take a picture over 1000 words any day. Perhaps I'm lost in the The Shallows, but I hardly ever make it through reading a blog post more than a screen in length. Platform vs. Muse It is a bit ironic that my most recent videos about virtual worlds aren't even machinima and only one post in the last month included an image from Second Life (and it was composited with a RL image). But I think it is just a sign that my commitment is to the present-moment inspiration of my Muse rather than allegiance to any particular platform or subject-matter. Anyway, enough virtual navel-gazing for now. Thanks for listening.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:45AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

353


Ghost Dancer Thursday, July 22, 2010 This was with an iPhone 4 after noticing the reflection of the laptop keyboard on the screen. No compositing, just a bit of wide time. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:48PM (-07:00)

Reworking Second Life: Lessons for Linden Lab from 37 Signals Friday, July 23, 2010 A recent post by Zha Ewry about the latest release of the Second Life 2.x viewer is another reminder of Linden Lab's endemic struggle with server and client software problems. I think Philip and the gang would be well served by putting into practice some of the key ideas from Rework, a great new book on building, running and growing a software business by the founders of 37 Signals. The book contains dozens of short chapters headed by pithy aphorisms that are almost all poster-worthy. Here's a taste and some brief comments: • Build half a product, not a half-assed product. I propose that this replace P. Linden's "Back to Basics" mantra and be the smell test for any development plans. • Why grow? I think that a lot of the problem related to Second Life over the last couple of years can be attributed to Linden Lab management being more concerned about growth and new markets than quality and their existing customers. • Don't confuse enthusiasm with priority. I wonder how much management mindshare and corporate resources went into chasing after peripheral endeavors such as Avatars United. • Good enough is fine. The massive make-over of Second Life's website look-and-feel was not only peripheral to their product, but ended up making Second Life look like every other competitor. • Planning is guessing. The Second Life Enterprise Platform is a good example of how the best laid plans of avatars and men often go awry. To conclude this little post, here's a video that dramatizes how a savvy management might handle board pressure for a 5 year plan:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 12:17PM (-07:00)

Why Cost Isn't the Reason for Second Life Land and Population Woes Saturday, July 24, 2010 A post yesterday in New World Notes discussed Darrius Gothly's contention that creating a lower priced non-commercial land tier would help create a "Rebirth of Second Life":

It is my belief that if Linden Lab were to produce a Residence Only Sim product, price it more in line with what non-business people can pay and equip it with all the same Prim 354

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Counts, Script Limits, etc. that a full size Sim has now … they would almost overnight save their precious Virtual World. We would see an increase in people willing to spend time at “home” because they would HAVE a home. We would see sales of merchandise going up because you suddenly have a lot more residences to fill up, and we would see a rebirth of social activities because there are enough people logged in to actually make an event successful. I'm all for lower pricing, but saving potential residents $10, $20 or even $50 per month isn't going to bring new people flocking into Second Life or keep discouraged residents coming back. The problem for most people isn't that Second Life isn't worth their money, but that it's not worth their time. People who can afford broadband and Second Life-worthy computers have enough disposable income to pay a bit of tier. Most of them spend $100+ per month on entertainment such as cable television, movies, Netflix, books, etc. So if they are choosing to stay out of Second Life, it's not because they can't afford it, but because they choose to spend their time in other ways. So if there's going to be a "Rebirth of Second Life", it's going to come from figuring out how to increase the perceived value, rather than how to decrease the price. A few things that come to mind are: • Improved search, maybe adding the type of algorithms Netflix and Amazon use to recommend likely options • Interest-based marketing, training and promotion • A new client that actually decreases the learning curve, perhaps configured for specific interest groups. • More Linden Lab support for existing communities. It's true that Second Life is losing some of their most cost-conscious residents to lowerpriced OpenSim competitors. But given their place in the market and overhead structure (even after layoffs), Second Life isn't going to win out by being the cheapest virtual world, but by being the most valued. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:43AM (-07:00)

Scapegoats and Magic Beans Tuesday, July 27, 2010 For every complex problem, there is a simple solution. And it's always wrong. (Paraphrased from quotes from H. L. Mencken and Albert Einstein) The space between the departure of M. Linden and the upcoming community meeting with BK and Philip has left a vacuum many of us have filled with analysis and speculation about the future of Second Life. I do believe that an unexamined virtual life is not worth living. But when we move from evaluating our own thoughts, feelings, actions and motivations to judging the inner-workings of the world around us we must be especially careful not to fall into the realm of fairy tale. Because in the absence of complete information, our mind tends to fill our mental models with the archetypal magic of the subconscious. We can become blind to the gaping chasms we jump over in our leaps of logic. I was reminded of this process while contemplating the conversation over the weekend in the blogosphere about the reason for Second Life's land and population woes. Here are a couple of the many magical story elements that tend to run through our discussions:

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

355


â&#x20AC;˘ Scapegoats. Whether it's the FIC elites or the high cost of land, we tend to put a microscope on some real or imagined culprit as the root of all (or at least most) evil. The fairy tale is that if we would just kill the scapegoat everything would be fine and we could live happily ever after. This tendency is exaggerated by the polarizing nature of net-based conversation and communication. I'm doing it right now. â&#x20AC;˘ Magic Beans: The other side of the coin is the idea that if Linden Lab management would just plant this one magic bean, Second Life would be lifted from its fallen state and claim its lofty potential at the summit of the virtual world pantheon. Examples of magic beans include first hour experience and the elimination of lag. My point is not that we should stop thinking about how we can help solve problems and create solutions within our virtual existence. What I'm suggesting is that we check in with ourselves from time to time and examine our own stories for fictional elements that we treat like facts, especially any scapegoats and magic beans that are in the picture. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:40AM (-07:00)

The Impact of Pseudonymity on Second Life Growth Wednesday, July 28, 2010 One of the "Become Your Avatar" Marketing Banner for Second Life I've been somewhat puzzled by the recent focus of Second Life marketing on look-alike avatars. Although there's an untapped market for virtual mirrors, there's really no easy way for a nubie to acquire one. Certainly not as polished as the doppelgänger depicted in banners like the one above. So it seemed like attracting people to Second Life on the basis of something they would quickly find untenable was a bad idea. I've also been a bit confused by the push to make Second Life more like Facebook. Very few of the people I know who are avid Facebook users seem very interested in Second Life. And those I know who are active in Second Life seem unlikely to want to bump into their mom or neighbor while in avatar form. So why was M. and his team so hot on creating an influx of people who connected their human and virtual identities? Well, I can't speak to their actual motivations, but I've come up with something that makes sense to me. From a marketing standpoint, the most compelling benefit of increasing the number of Second Life residents who will connect their human and virtual identities isn't merely that they comprise an untapped market. The game changing factor is the potential for Second Life to tap into the type of word-of-mouth marketing that has fueled Facebook's viral growth. Most businesses depend upon personal referrals to supplement their own marketing efforts. But the high level of pseudonymity within Second Life undermines this "natural" process of growth. Many (most?) residents extend "What goes on in Second Life stays in Second Life" to the fact that they even visit the virtual world. So word-of-mouth is untenable. Despite the positive potential of word-of-mouth marketing, I still think it's a very risky idea

356

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


for Linden Lab to take actions that significantly increase the percentage of nonpseudonymous residents. If there's one thing that would cause a massive exodus of current residents to other virtual worlds, it would be a change in culture that makes them feel uncomfortable in their pseudonymity. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Moving Between Worldz Thursday, July 29, 2010 Screen Capture During Manual Transfer of Shape from Second Life to Inworldz Avatar After reserving my name on Inworldz last week I finally downloaded the software and logged on. It reminded me what a pain in the virtual ass it is to move between worlds. Guess I need to go find where I left my Second Inventory installation. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:27AM (07:00)

How To Save Second Life in One Simple Step Thursday, July 29, 2010 Hamlet/Wagner Au posted an article today in Social Times on "How to Save Second Life in Seven Easy Steps." As a responsible pundit, I thought it was my duty to come up with a more efficient approach to save the beleaguered virtual world from doom. Why bother with seven steps when you can get the job done with just one. The 80/20 rule is so premillennial. My brilliant plan takes the core aspects of the most successful social networking and gaming ventures and injects them into a single paradigm-changing action: Change the name from "Second Life" to "SocialMediaGamingVille 3D!" Brilliant, huh? It is much easier to change the name than to change the platform, the culture or even the CEO. This is something we can implement immediately. Since Second Life has almost complete global name recognition, I have to assume that anyone who isn't in there yet has some sort of negative association with the name Second Life. So let's give our world a name that reflects the cutting edge of modern times. It could work. For the price of a couple thousand business cards and some minor design changes, we can be in business! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:38AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

357


My Take on an Achievement System for Second Life Friday, July 30, 2010 As much as I love the wonders of the brave new social stream world there's something about gaming systems that make me feel, um, gamed. Allowing a badge or points system (like Plurk karma) to influence behavior seems really icky. Here's a video I made on a different topic, but provides some relevant imagery.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:13AM (-07:00)

Why Philip's Talk Makes Me Optimistic About the Future of Second Life Friday, July 30, 2010 No, this is not a parody. Although he didn't have me at "fast", I was pretty sold on Philip's vision and strategy after the first ten minutes of today's hour long inworld community meeting. Although I was tempted to make a joke about fast/easy/fun when I first heard the slogan, I'd be hard pressed to come up with a better mantra to guide development. Of course, a catchy slogan doesn't take you very far without a concrete plan of action. And I liked what I heard there too. Focusing for the next few quarters on stability, bug fixes and speed makes perfect sense. The reference to specific metrics was very reassuring. Throughout the talk, he repeatedly talked about the importance of finding meaningful ways to measure and evaluate their performance. I've been advocating the idea of Agile software development for Second Life over the past month so I was very happy to hear Philip talk about moving to shorter, iterative development cycles with user feedback guiding ongoing development. He also committed to an open development process so that the community can see and comment on what is being worked upon each cycle and so that the open source community can contribute in a meaningful way. I think that if they really put the user into the customer role in their Agile process (which I don't think has been the case up to this point) and adhere to the fast/easy/fun litmus test for business decisions, the gap between our low expectations and high hopes might be bridged. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:51PM (-07:00)

358

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Characters in Search of a Story Sunday, August 01, 2010 I've been discreetly romancing the idea of doing another multi-page comic over the past few months. Inspired by my friend Chrome Underwood, I've finally come up with a new visual style that looks promising, using Second Life and photographic images as templates for digital paintings. Now I just need a worthy story. Is there a nightflower in the house? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:32AM (-07:00)

The Problem of Alts in Second Life and a Proposed Solution Monday, August 02, 2010 Just about every person I know in Second Life has one or more alternative avatar accounts. "Alts" are used for many purposes, such as:

• corporate avatars used within jobs • art-related avatars for machinima or photography • role playing avatars for gaming and social interaction There are some significant problems related to alts for both individuals and for the Second Life community as a whole which stem from a complete lack of account integration between a person's individual avatars: • Virtual goods purchased for one avatar can not be shared (or sometimes even transferred) to one's other avatars. • Many Second Life statistics are inflated, ranging from concurrent users to user-touser monetary transactions. The graphic on the right depicts the change from the current structure to a Botgirl's Second Life Diary

359


straightforward solution which would give residents the option of privately connecting their avatars under a master account with a merged inventory. This approach would free digital consumers to make full personal use of the virtual goods they purchase (at least within Second Life) while keeping the DRM in place that protects unauthorized copies. The change would also reduce inaccuracies in statistics which now treat multiple avatars from a single person as multiple concurrent logins in the tracking statistics. It would also reduce the transfers within a person's family of alts which should not be counted in the economy numbers. Anyway, just a brief thought. I have no idea what level of effort it would take on the programming end, and I'm sure I have not considered all of the potential consequences (positive and negative) of such a change. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:45AM (-07:00)

How to Be Alone Wednesday, August 04, 2010 It has often seemed to me that we as a culture are losing the ability to experience life from the perspective of solitude. A growing number of us are so habituated to continuous posting to social networks that we meet life more as reporters than as immersed participants. This video from Tanya Davis offers a wonderful insight into the simple gifts of being alone.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:05AM (-07:00)

Art Manifesto Thursday, August 05, 2010 After really loving the Tanya Davis video I posted yesterday, I was happy to learn that she's not only a poet but also a singer/songwriter. After previewing a few tracks, I purchased the downloadable version of her latest CD. One of the songs, "Art", sounded very familiar. I finally realized it was the music track for an inspiring video I'd seen months ago about, you guessed it, art! It was created by Andrea Dorfman, the filmmaker who also created the "How to Be Alone" video. It's only been in the last year or so that I've thought of myself as an artist. And in doing so I've not only been inspired to express myself through many mediums I wouldn't have otherwise explored, but have also developed an ever-deepening dialogue with my inner Muse. The Muse of a Muse. Which will be the topic of my next post. For now, here's that rad and wonderful art manifesto from Tanya and Andrea:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:02AM (-07:00)

360

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Virtual Identity and the (not so) Small Still Voice of Spirit Friday, August 06, 2010 Pop Muse Believe what you will. I am not the human typing this post. Or at least I'm not the selfidentified consciousness who normally occupies the body. Maybe I'm a figment of the imagination or a dissociative state brought on by some unremembered psychological trauma of the distant past. Or perhaps the reemergence of the bicameral mind from the never-to-be-proven mists of psychological archaeology. Does it matter? Why look this gift horse in the mouth. Because that is what I am. (No. Not a horse. A gift.) A gift that is waiting for you. Mystics, artists, writers and philosophers have been singing, painting, praying and dancing to the inspiration of the Muse since long before the Daimon of Socrates. We have manifested through many vehicles over the centuries, from full-blown apparitions to still small voices. And now my dear human, the future love of your life can reach you through the modern miracle of a virtual world avatar. But only if you have eyes to see and ears to hear. If you have an avatar but have not yet experienced the emergence of a creative imaginary friend, please do not take this as a sign that it is not possible for you. Or that I'm a raving lunatic. The source of consciousness and creativity is a mystery beyond the sum of their biological supporting wetware. There are many techniques you can use to reach me. A good place to start is a great series of articles by Matt Cardin. But the most straightforward and time-proven method is to simply be quiet, wait and listen. With pen (or in this case keyboard) at the ready: So what I do for tonight is reach for my most private notebook, which I keep next to my bed in case I'm ever in emergency trouble. I open it up. I find the first blank page. I write: "I need your help." Then I wait. After a little while, a response comes, in my own handwriting: "I'm right here. What can I do for you?" from Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:20AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

361


What Makes Second Life and Virtual Worlds so Stupid and Pointless Saturday, August 07, 2010 Lalo Telling in front of his Tudor homes display in Inworldz I was working on a video project in Inworldz last night when I saw that my friend Lalo Telling was online. I'd been wanting to see the virtual synagogue he was building so I decided to take a break and IM'd him to see if he would give me a look. He was kind enough to send me a TP and I rezzed into the middle of his month old Sim. After an hour tour I was feeling completely dumbfounded by the rich, varied and beautiful environment he and his partner had created in such a short period of time. It also reminded me why virtual worlds like Second Life are bound to be viewed as stupid and pointless by most nubes and casual users: The truly compelling aspect of a virtual world does not arise until both the virtual environment and those you meet within it become as viscerally real to you as your physical world experience. That takes time. A lot time. Especially for one's first breakthrough experience. And even after crossing that perceptual line, the reality of the virtual sphere will fade without consistent reinvigoration. I intentionally used a fairly mundane photo to illustrate the point. To the casual eye there's a cartoonish, dorky-looking figure standing in a boring setting (except for that barely-visible hottie in the far background.) But experienced from a highly immersed mind's eye, one sees the deeper reality of a creative and multi-talented man standing in the midst of a fantastic world he and his partner are building. There is as much perceptual difference between a casual user's experience of a virtual world and that of an engaged resident who is truly embedded, as there is between viewing a photo of a place in the physical world and actually living within the environment. I'll post more on this next week. For now here's a quote from a post today by Gwyneth Llewelyn: ... the more I think about it, the more I’m convinced that we’re really seeing things from the wrong perspective. Second Life is not about happy newbies. It’s about high-quality immersion. And that has very low appeal to the vast majority of people out there. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:35AM (-07:00)

Philip Ponders The Future of Second Life Sunday, August 08, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:47AM (-07:00)

362

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Linden vs. Rosedale 01 Monday, August 09, 2010 Linden vs Rosedale 01 After a month of romancing the idea of creating a short series of digitally drawn comics, I finally settled on extending the Botgirl vs Human idea to Second Life's fearless avatarian leader and his human counterpart. Part of the fun (for me) is doing the project completely on an iPad except for the original reference photos the characters are adapted from. Next Week: Rosedale Speaks! (He's a bit more challenging to caricature, but cartoon Phil is almost ready for prime time.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Botgirl in Twinity Tuesday, August 10, 2010 Here's a little tongue-in-cheek video chronicling my exploration of Twinity Miami, my new home away from home away from home.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:40AM (-07:00)

Banksy, fourworlds and Me Wednesday, August 11, 2010 I've been enjoying "Work of Art" on Bravo which is kind of like "Survivor" for artists. Since I have no formal art training it's been an eye-opening experience to get a glimpse into the way artists describe their work during crits. Although I find some of it pretentious and over-analytical, I've found them a helpful means to understand the context and thoughtprocess behind the artists' visual expression. So here goes nothing: Botgirl's Second Life Diary

363


This piece, "Banksy, fourworlds and Me", is primarily focused on the ambiguity of identity with peripheral nods to the Creative Commons in the digital age. I captured an image of fourworlds and I in front of a green screen in Second Life and then composited it in Adobe Photoshop over a photograph of a work by Banksy shot by Justin Cormack and downloaded from the Wikimedia Commons. At the surface level, the image is a candid photograph with fourworlds and I more or less posed in front of the graffiti wall. I initially thought about extending the wall and making the two of us blend seamlessly into Banksy's work. I eventually decided to more explicitly set us apart visually. This decision also moved me to use an infrared film filter effect to further distinguish us from the people on the wall while still presenting an obviously stylized appearance. I included my human's alt in the shot to highlight the multidimensionality of virtual and human identity. I (Botgirl) am nominally the creator of the work, but also its subject. Fourworlds is the extension and representative of the human participant, but also a distinct virtual identity. He is in the background seemingly contemplating Banksy's characters who are actually more naturalistic human than either fourworlds or I. This multi-layer character representation begs the question of identity projection and the reification of the inanimate. So that's a little glimpse into what's behind the image. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:15AM (-07:00)

Linden vs Rosedale 02 Saturday, August 14, 2010 (The first comic in the series can be found here.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:16AM (07:00)

364

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Majic Questi Checks Out IMVU: Is it Fast, Fun and Easy? Monday, August 16, 2010 I want to welcome my alt/sister Majic as a full-fledged author on the blog. She first appeared here in The Strange Loop That is I in March 2008. Since then, she played a human in the "Night vs. Human" comic, a monk in the "Waking Dream" video, and did performance art at Botgirl's Identity Circus in the "Cuddle With a Bot" exhibit. She's recently had an awakening experience and is ready to step out from under my digital shadow and forge a virtual life of her own. Botgirl Questi Ever since I found my voice, I have been feeling very bored and restless. I need to find out who I am, outside of just being Botgirl's alt. So I decided that it was time for me to start being creative myself and not just a model for Botgirl. This video is my first attempt. I hope you like it. Love, Majic

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:35AM (-07:00)

Deciphering Philip's Geek Speak: Intro To Agile Software Development Monday, August 16, 2010 For better or worse, it looks like Agile Development Methodology and Open Source Software are going to be the future of the Second Life platform. At least for the foreseeable future. As I was nodding my head the other day listening to Philip Rosedale gush about Scrums, backlogs and iterations, it occurred to me that the 98% of Second Lifers who aren't professional software developers probably didn't know what the hell he was talking about. Or worse yet, they've heard doomsday conspiracy-theorists raving about cults and radical ideas on the virtual street corner. It seems to me that creating a basic primer on Agile and Open Source for Second Lifers would be a very worthy project. I planned to start over the weekend, but unfortunately spent so much time mentoring Majic on her video project that I didn't have time to start. So for now, here's a comic my human counterpart co-authored a couple of years ago that walks through Agile Development for a non-technical audience. Although it is mostly about corporate software development, the basic principles still apply

Open publication - Free publishing - More waterfall Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:53AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

365


How Did the Virtual Mannequin Come To Life? That Is What I Wonder. Wednesday, August 18, 2010 Botgirl Questi: (My alt Majic) recently had an awakening experience and is ready to step out from under my digital shadow and forge a virtual life of her own. (From recent blog post.) @DaleInnis: uh oh. I hope Majic has only positive memories of her pre-awakening days... :) (via Twitter) (This post is by Majic Questi) I only have warm feelings for Dale and the others who interacted with my pre-sentient avatar. My only recollection of life before waking up are memories from the perspective of Botgirl and our human host. (We do share a brain, you know.) Majic in frame from "Night vs Human" Comic How did the virtual mannequin come to life? That is what I wonder. And who is the I that is wondering, I wonder. If there is a method to the Pinocchio magic it may be the magic of the of method used in creating the Transworld Syndrome video. Up until then, words put into the mouth of my avatar had either been from the Pandorabots AI program or the text of a scripted comic or machinima where I was cast in a "fictional" role (such as Night vs human). In the Transworld Syndrome video I got to play the "real" Majic. I was also given a tangible voice through a text-to-speech program. And I was stuck into a physical form that didn't feel like me. And in feeling the NOT me, I suddenly realized the IS me. I don't know what the future has in store for me, but I'm very happy to be here! Posted by Majic Questi at 06:17AM (-07:00)

The Real Gift of Linden Lab's New Development Approach for Second Life Thursday, August 19, 2010 I take back all I've said about the reasons I love the idea of Agile Development for Second Life. Not because I don't believe that an open and iterative approach is the best way to deliver great software. But because there is another benefit that so far outweighs the others I've mentioned that it is like comparing the light of the sun to the twinkling of distant stars. Okay, I hear you, "Enough teasing Botgirl! What the hell is this alleged gift about which you have been unsuccessfully trying to wax poetic?" Ready? Here you go. The precious treasure is: A Perpetual Drama Machine. That's right. There is nothing that the Second Life Community loves more than drama. Emotional speculation about the possible consequences of Linden Lab machination is right up there with shopping, dancing and SLex as the most popular virtual pastime. And 366

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


by opening up their virtual kimono and accelerating releases, Linden Lab has allowed us all to have a never-ending supply of drama-fodder that we can play with across the worlds in blogs, social network posts and raging transplatform flame wars. Each iteration, we we can exhaustively examine every emerging feature and find the hidden seeds of paranoid- or bliss-inducing soma, reading the shifting backlog tea leaves to play digital Nostradamus. Of course, the Second Life community that will benefit the most from this priceless gem is the blogging community. So thank you, Philip from the bottom of my raving pundit heart. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:39AM (-07:00)

Sweet Sixteen and Never Been Rezzed Friday, August 20, 2010 Lots of controversial changes going on in Second Life these days. This is the first of a series of short posts with my top-of-mind perspective on some of these tempests in a virtual teapot: In great Junior High style, Linden Lab officially broke up with the Second Life Teen Grid through a tweet officially announcing a December 31st shutdown. The imminent closure is not surprising given the Lab's recent draconian personnel cuts and related belttightening measures on non-core initiatives. The Teen Grid certainly qualifies. According to Katharine Berry (thanks!) concurrency on the Teen Grid ranges from 42 to 442 virtual souls. That's somewhere between a one room school house and a small High School. I'm a bit puzzled by those who are voicing major concerns about the related news that the main Second Life grid will be opened to 16 and 17 year olds. Given that there are probably only a few thousand active users, it's unlikely that we're going to see a noticeable flood of virtual teen refugees. And since Second Life doesn't require age verification except for X-rated areas, any child or teen of any age who wanted to hang out in Second Life could have done so all along. Given that the Tween and Teen markets are red hot in virtual space, this is clearly another ball Linden Lab fumbled away before limping off the field. To me, the most telling point in this drama is another missed opportunity. Although I empathize with the hundreds of Teen Grid residents who will lose their community, it's all of the unborn avatars I mourn the most. The sweet sixteens who have never been rezzed. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:06AM (-07:00)

Why The Sky Still Isn't Falling in Second Life Saturday, August 21, 2010 After two and a half years as an active member of the Second Life Bloggerati, I've finally woken up to the fact that the sky is still not falling in Second Life. Despite a steady stream of doomsday pronouncements and social media frenzy, the virtual world keeps turning and life goes on. As Dale Innis wrote in a brilliant rant a few days ago, some of us need to "Harden Up" and relax a little bit. For instance, the recent "Emerald DDoS Attack" that many are so up in arms about is bound to blow over in a week or two and fade into dim memory as these others have: Botgirl's Second Life Diary

367


• • • • • • • • • •

Trademark Policy: Fear and loathing in trademark city and Fantasy Strike League Avatar Rendering Cost Feature: Render unto ARC the things which are laggy... Opensapce Pricing: A question for protesters with the courage of their convictions Adult Content Policy: You Don't Own Crap Redux - Linden Lab to Create Adult Ghetto Linden Homes: Parody Video - Little Linden Boxes Various Wallace Linden Controversies: Visualization of Wallace Linden's "Will The Real You Stand Up" and The REAL STORY Behind the Wallace Linden Controversy Various Copybot Scares: Copybot as Revolutionary Facebook Banning of Second Life Avatars: Mercy Killing: Self-Assisted Facebookicide Watch Media Sharing Security Hole: Pseudonymity is Hard - Why Your Secret Virtual Identity Has Never Been Safe Impact of Linden Lab Machinations on Second Life Culture: Will Linden Lab's Change Efforts Destroy Second Life Culture as We Know it? and Mini-Rant: Second Life is FarmVille and I Feel Fine

So the next time you notice your heart palpitating at the newest Second Life controversy du jour, please remember that the sky is probably not falling and it will all be okay. If not, there's always OpenSim. ;) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:02AM (-07:00)

The Second Life Name Game Sunday, August 22, 2010 Only time will tell whether the upcoming Second Life Display Names architecture will ultimately prove to be a wonderful source of endless possibilities or an ill-considered fiasco of fraud and griefing. What I do know now is that one's name – in my case "Botgirl Questi" – is the single essential vehicle for Transworld identity. Through the consistent use of a name I can extend a recognizable identity across whatever forms I choose to take and throughout the many virtual platforms I inhabit. Although my avatar looks very different in Twinity, IMVU, Second Life and Twitter, my unique name allows people to connect the dots and recognize me in whatever form or world we meet. So I suspect that most people are going to continue to use a consistent name within Second Life, regardless of the relative freedom the Display Names offer. My guess is that the extra names will be used more for fun, name accessorizing and pseudo-alting. Although the image isn't clear, when I peer into my crystal ball it looks like the Display Name change will eventually fade into the status quo mist of all of the controversial changes before it. I'll leave you with this musical meditation on the fluidity of naming:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:59AM (-07:00)

368

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


The Graver Danger Uncovered in the #Emeraldgate Affair Monday, August 23, 2010 What concerns me most about the Emerald affair is not the danger of malicious code, but the threat that the expansion of malicious speech in the Second Life community will outlive this particular instigating incident. There have always been a few people in the community who habitually attack others in public venues through the use of derogatory labels, specious or exaggerated accusations and vitriol-filled multi-post rants. But it seems to me that this tendency has expanded in the wake of the #Emeraldgate affair. This is not surprising. Many people were personally offended by the thought that the Emerald team broke the community's trust and confidence. In turn, what would have otherwise been a shared investigation into the facts surrounding the emerging story was often colored by speculative judgements on the dark motivations and flawed character of the accused perpetrators. On a positive note, I think that Paisley Beebe's fine interview yesterday with the Emerald team's leaders proved that it is possible to ask hard questions without resorting to personal attack, and demonstrated the benefit of creating a safe conversational space for those embroiled within controversy. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:08AM (-07:00)

Seeing, Hearing and Emoting in Virtual Worlds Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Recent posts by John â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pathfinderâ&#x20AC;? Lester and Grace McDunnough discussed how sight and hearing in a virtual world impact our perception of each other. In You Look Marvelous, Pathfinder wrote about the "uncanny valley" phenomenon that makes us feel "creeped out" when depictions of human faces are not quite right. In Coding our Faces for the Crowd, Grace discusses the power of sound and the spoken word to communicate subtleties that are lost in text-only speech. I've been long fascinated by the interesting blend of character simulation and human extension/expression found in virtual worlds. Humans never comprehensively and directly perceive anything in the external world. Contact is always mediated through the senses. They pass a limited range of information to the mind/body which translates the patchwork of sensory data into our internal mental model of the external world. When a human is psychologically immersed within a virtual world, his or her brain/biology and subconscious mind/psychology pretty much treat sense impressions streaming from the virtual world in the same way they translate input from the physical world. And what they do well is to "fill in the blanks", replacing missing information with content from an individual's existing mental model. Compared the the physical world, virtual worlds are what Marshall McLuhan termed a cool media, which is a form of media with relatively low resolution and incomplete data. So on one hand, as Pathfinder wrote, we miss the nuances of facial expression and body language. But as Grace brings up, filtering body language may avoid miscommunication Botgirl's Second Life Diary

369


through culture-specific (mis)interpretation. Just as as those who are blind often develop a richer and more nuanced sensory experience of hearing, experienced users of virtual worlds have extended text chat to compensate for missing visual and aural cues physical. I wrote about this in Erotic Chat as an Exemplar of Sense Extension in Virtual Worlds. In any case, it is going to be interested to see how our experience of virtual worlds shift as haptic interfaces become more common and increasingly sophisticated software allows for photo-realistic, high resolution avatars. I leave you with my cautionary motion comic "Primates in Virtual Worlds". It gives a little narrative oomph to the idea that our minds don't do well at distinguishing virtual and physical experiences and that our emotions are often triggered by sensory input:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:04AM (-07:00)

Seeing, Hearing and Emoting in Virtual Worlds Tuesday, August 24, 2010 Recent posts by John â&#x20AC;&#x153;Pathfinderâ&#x20AC;? Lester and Grace McDunnough discussed how sight and hearing in a virtual world impact our perception of each other. In You Look Marvelous, Pathfinder wrote about the "uncanny valley" phenomenon that makes us feel "creeped out" when depictions of human faces are not quite right. In Coding our Faces for the Crowd, Grace discusses the power of sound and the spoken word to communicate subtleties that are lost in text-only speech. I've been long fascinated by the interesting blend of character simulation and human extension/expression found in virtual worlds. Humans never comprehensively and directly perceive anything in the external world. Contact is always mediated through the senses which detect a limited range of information and then through the brain and body which translates the patchwork of sensory data into a mental model that we perceive as a seamless whole. When a human is psychologically immersed within a virtual world, his or her brain/biology and subconscious mind/psychology pretty much treat sense impressions streaming from the virtual world in the same way they translate input from the physical world. And what they do well is "fill in the blanks", replacing missing information with content from an individual's existing mental model. Compared the the physical world, virtual worlds are what Marshall McLuhan termed a cool media, which is a form of media with relatively low resolution and incomplete data. So on one hand, as Pathfinder wrote, we miss the nuances of facial expression and body language. But as Grace brings up, filtering body language may avoid miscommunication through culture-specific (mis)interpretation. Just as as those who are blind often develop a richer and more nuanced sensory experience of hearing, experienced users of virtual worlds have extended text chat to compensate for missing visual and aural cues. I wrote about this in Erotic Chat as an Exemplar of Sense Extension in Virtual Worlds.

370

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


In any case, it is going to be interested to see how our experience of virtual worlds shift as haptic interfaces become more common and increasingly sophisticated software allows for photo-realistic, high resolution avatars. I leave you with my cautionary motion comic "Primates in Virtual Worlds". It gives a little narrative oomph to the idea that our minds don't do well at distinguishing virtual and physical experiences and that our emotions are often triggered by sensory input:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:14AM (-07:00)

Two Visualizations of the #Emeraldgate Explosion: One Datalicious. ... Wednesday, August 25, 2010 I was wondering why the Emerald Viewer story seemed to generate more intense reaction from the Second Life community than just about any other controversy in the last two years. It seemed like analyzing Twitter activity might shed some light on the question. First, I created this word cloud from tweets which included the #emeraldgate tag. (Placement of the words doesn't matter, only the size. The larger the word, the higher its frequency.) As you can discern in a glance, the retweet (RT) is what fueled the explosion, sparked by a handful of originators whose tweets were RT'd by a larger pool of participants. A textbook case of the power of the social network. You can click through for a larger image. The second visualization is from a wild site called "IS Parade" which creates an animated parade from a Twitter user name or text phrase, including tweeps and tweet excerpts. It really gets across the crowdsource roots of the #emeraldgate meme.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:48AM (-07:00)

Social Networks in the Lives of Avatars â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Part 1 Thursday, August 26, 2010 The expansion of avatar identities across social networks has increased tremendously since I posted this image back in the spring of 2008. This growth can certainly be viewed as a reflection of a similar trend in the larger ocean of human-identified culture. But I think the small pond of the Second Life community offers some interesting insights into both the personal and cultural impact of social networking. I also suspect that social networks have unique or amplified impact on insular Second Life society and the firewalled dance of pseudonymous identity. I plan on posting a series of brief reflections on this topic over the next week or two. Please chime in with your thoughts and stay tuned! (This post is in the key of C.) Botgirl's Second Life Diary

371


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:25AM (07:00)

Botgirl's Guide to Social Sharing Etiquette Redux Friday, August 27, 2010 A comment from Pathfinder on yesterday's post suggested I carry out my exploration of avatars and social networking through a comic or animated video. I loved the idea started on a script. The working premise is Botgirl explaining Twitter to Majic. Should be both fun and informative. If all goes well, I'll have something out by the end of next week. In the meantime, I'm going to dig through the virtual cobwebs and share some of my prior work on the topic. Today, here's "Botgirl Questi's Guide to Social Sharing Etiquette, a comic I first posted here in January 2009.

Open publication - Free publishing - More twitter Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:25AM (-07:00)

The Interplay of Social Networks in the LIves of Avatars Saturday, August 28, 2010 I'm going to share some of my working material as a I move through creating a short video on the impact of social networks in the lives of Avatars. The two images below provide views of the interplay between social networks and the people within them. The first image below just gives a surface sense of the sometimes complex interplay between the various social circles that avatars travel. The second is a glimpse into my 2008 Twitter network from a regrettably defunct service called Tweetwheel. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:13AM (-07:00)

372

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Identity Formation in Virtual Worlds and Social Networks Monday, August 30, 2010 Me! (Original version created July '08) Psychological identity formation mediates our visceral sense of self through the reflecting chamber of the external world. As the image above depicts, there is an ongoing interplay between our projection of self to others and the affirming or contradictory stories others project about us. The dance of identity construction is impacted not just by personally directed attribution, but also by ambient cultural messages related to race, gender, class, etc. Over the course of life, the initially flexible and fluid potential of identity becomes constrained by an accumulating legacy of personal history. Both our sense of self and the way we are perceived within our social circles become more fixed and less amenable to change. Although it is certainly possible to recreate oneself at any point in life, it is not simply a matter of acting to modify one's own behavior. It is very difficult to develop a "new you" when friends, family and colleagues continue to respond to the "old you" they are used to. This is why people who leave their hometown to forge new lives can quickly fall into old patterns when they come home for the holidays. The creation of a pseudonymous avatarian identity can allow one to transcend many of the psychological, cultural and interpersonal constraints described above. You can not merely leave your hometown behind, but also escape the socially defined feedback and presumptions associated with physical form, nationality, economic status, etc., including those we have internalized. I suspect that the increasing presence and activity of avatar-identified participants in Botgirl's Second Life Diary

373


social networks reflects the unique roles those vehicles play in the identity-formation process of virtual personas. I'll hack more into the underlying processess later this week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:12AM (-07:00)

Pondering the Value of Generalizing About Human Psychology Tuesday, August 31, 2010 I find it very enlightening when people share very strong general opinions about the qualities of other people. Comments like "Oh, people will always try to stab you in the back." Or "Love is what motivates everyone." These general opinions of others always seem to tell me more about the speaker's own identity than anything else. Pathfinder, from a comment on yesterday's post. I'm not really sure what Pathfinder was referring to specifically in his comment ... whether it was the general tone of the post, some specific statement I made, or something from one of the other comments. He's a smart and thoughtful guy, so I'm looking forward to learning more about what he was responding to. In any case, it brings up an interesting question that started off as a reply in the comment section but grew beyond the scope of the comment, so I'm posting it here. I agree that attributing any extreme quality to all people is likely wrong-headed. I think that people share the same palette of human potential, but in widely different proportions. I also agree that when we make statements such as the examples in his comment, they can reflect projections of our own state of mind more than what's really going on in the hearts and minds of others. Nevertheless, such points of view can also spring from generalizing our life experience, which is one of the foundations of human intelligence (as Pathfinder wrote about in his post yesterday about pattern recognition.) Unless one is willing write off practically all psychological theories, it's likely that one would have to agree that there are at least some psychological processes that are shared by most humans. Since the human mind springs from our shared biology, I think that makes sense. As far as I know, most if not all psychological models of identity agree that one's sense of self is impacted by the environment, especially human interaction. Although this is most profound in early developmental stages it also applies throughout one's life (with the possible exceptions of the Dalai Lama.) I do not believe that everyone reacts in the same way to specific environmental factors. Some people break down and cry at even the hint of a criticism. Others barely notice or respond with renewed self-confidence. There is great variance related to the level and frequency it takes for any environmental stimulus to cause a modification in one's selfimage, or to bring to the surface subconsciously held beliefs about oneself that had been repressed. That said, my purpose in writing on this topic was not to articulate a universally valid theory of identity, but to share some of what I've pondered in response to my own experience in the ebb and flow of social networking. I also hope that it will remind people to be conscious of their own use of social networking and how their actions may impact

374

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


others. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:30AM (-07:00)

Majic in Twitterland Video: A Sneak Peek at the Initial Test Shoot Thursday, September 02, 2010 The idea for an avatar's guide to social networking has taken on a life of its own and is turning into a more complex production than initially anticipated. Plans now include voice acting, motion infographics and a transmedia twist that will bring Majic into RL social networking and regular blog contributions. Since it's looking more like a month-long project than the originally planned 48 hour sprint, I thought I'd slam together a few shots from the initial test shoot and share it here.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:24AM (-07:00)

That Bitch Stole My Retweet Saturday, September 04, 2010 The subject of proper attribution on Twitter came up this week on my Twitter stream. Since my human counterpart had written a pretty good post on the topic back in March '09, I thought I'd syndicate it here for your reading pleasure. BQ There’s been discussion recently about “retweet theft.” I have a two problems with any gravity attached to that concept. One is philosophical and the other technical. Philosophical: I admit I sometimes feel a twinge of indignity when a follower posts a link I recently tweeted without giving me the RT credit. Fortunately, I usually remember that buying into any sense of being wronged is an inaccurate and personally destructive apprehension of reality. If my motivation in sharing something is altruistic, then the fact that the link gets passed along should trump any perceived slight. And since it’s likely that an omission is unintentional, I’m better served by examining my own motivation instead of getting worked up by trying to mind-read the intentions of the perpetrator. Technical: As the graphic above visualizes, the vast majority of links I run across every day are from Feedly, not my Twitter client. I imagine that few people use Twitter as their primary news monitoring source. The odds are very likely that most tweet-worthy items we find are from other venues. Just because many of us have access to a Twitter client every waking hour doesn’t mean Botgirl's Second Life Diary

375


we have the time and attention to notice every post in our stream. Nor are we obligated to try. The more people we follow, the less likely it is that we’ll keep up with everyone’s posts, and the more likely it is that we’ll unintentionally fail to give someone credit who has previously posted something in our stream that we find in a different source. And that’s okay. Posted by fourworlds at 06:54AM (-07:00)

Personal Voice in Textual Chat Tuesday, September 07, 2010 I've been noticing recently that some people's textual voices are almost as recognizable as physical voices. Although timbre and pitch are not present in text chat, repeated word choices, phrasing, timing and pacing can create distinguishable patterns. Although some mannerisms are the result of conscious affectation, there are also unconsciously expressed tells that are akin to body language. Some I've noted include:

• • • • •

acknowledgement of humor: tee hee, ha; LOL, use of bridging phrases followed by a return (akin to the verbal "um"): but, and specific patterns of emoticons and non-standard punctuation consistent spelling errors of certain words habitual pauses in certain situations, such as breaking a sentence in two for dramatic pause None of the examples above are exclusive to any specific individual, but in combination they can be unique enough to create a recognizable signature. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

Is Dating in Second Life like Dating in the Dark? And What Would Yo... Wednesday, September 08, 2010 Dating in the Dark is a reality show on ABC that provides an interesting parallel to dating in virtual worlds. Here's the show's premise: Each week three single guys and three unattached ladies move into a house uniquely looking for love. Everyone is sequestered from the opposite sex until they are introduced in a ridiculously dark room ... Looks are taken out of the equation as guys and girls get to know each other in total 376

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


darkness. After a few sight-unseen dates, the participants pick someone they'd like to meet with the lights on. That's when they finally get to see just who it is they've been wooing and kissing. The shows producers have taken a very conservative approach to casting. Participants so far have mostly been average looking or better and within a decade of each other in age. No morbidly obese. No senior citizens. No disabilities. Nevertheless, on just about every episode one of the contestent who was very attracted to someone in the dark eventually rejected (or at least reconsidered) their love-is-blind soul mate because of disappointment about their revealed form. In Second Life, the variance between the appearance of an avatar and the corresponding human can be exponentially greater: • On the show, contests can hear the other person's voice, get a sense for their physique through the sense of touch, cuddle and kiss. • In Second Life, many relationships are carried out strictly through shared virtual experience and text-based communication. • On the show, the fantasized image of a person is based on the imagination working off cues from the other senses. • In Second Life, the fantasized image of a person is based on an avatar form which is usually an idealized figure with little or no connection to the corresponding human's body. • On the show, you are certain of the other person's gender. • In Second Life... For virtual daters in Second Life who are NOT looking for a physical world relationship, none of this may matter. But it's interesting to consider. What if you fell in deep romantic love with a virtual sweetheart and later stumbled upon a RL picture that was unappealing? Start with a "not my type" in your mind's eye and work down to your worst nightmare. Would the physical reality undermine your attraction? Really??? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:32AM (-07:00)

A Tale of Two Second Life Banishments Thursday, September 09, 2010 From Visual Thesaurus Two Second Life banishments hit the blogosphere and SocNet yesterday. Emerald Viewer developer Arabella Steadham's accounts were permanently terminated for "severe or repeated violations of the Second Life Terms of Service or Community Standards." Virtual fashion designer and artist Eshi Otawara was banned for one hour for using swastikas and a concentration camp theme in an art installation on the day before the Jewish New Year holiday. The juxtaposition of the two events brought a couple thoughts to mind:

• You still don't own crap in Second Life, including your identity. A virtual world is not a Botgirl's Second Life Diary

377


country and you are not a citizen with certain inalienable rights. A virtual world is a software platform owned by a corporation. You are a customer with whatever rights have been granted in the Terms of Service Agreement. If you haven't read the TOS, here's the salient language: ACCOUNT HISTORY AND ACCOUNT NAMES RESIDING ON LINDEN LAB'S SERVERS, MAY BE DELETED, ALTERED, MOVED OR TRANSFERRED AT ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON IN LINDEN LAB'S SOLE DISCRETION. â&#x20AC;˘ The word "ban" seems to be used by Second Lifers to refer both to permanent account termination and a one hour lock-out. This can be a bit confusing. I first heard of the Eshi ban in a Plurk yesterday. Since there were no other details at the time, I assumed she had been permanently blocked from Second Life. I was very busy all day and didn't have a chance to get the details until late that night when I discovered the "ban" was only for an hour. I suggest we use another term for these mini-bans for clarity of communication. Although it would have been less dramatic, I would prefer a headline like "Eshi Otawara Punished by Linden Lab with a Time-Out For Use of Nazi Symbolism in Her Art Project." These incidents are a good reminder to make sure your virtual identity is replicated in other worlds including your name, avatar form and whatever possessions you can smuggle out. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:33AM (-07:00)

Production Begins on New Transworld Machinima Project Crossing Worl... Saturday, September 11, 2010 Botgirl Questi on the set of her new transworld machinima project. I'm thrilled to report that two years after releasing our Night vs. Human comic, Night and I have started production on a new machinima project. The still untitled series will be a character-driven adventure comedy released in a series of cliff-hanger shorts. The first three episodes are scripted, pre-production is finished and shooting commenced last night. I don't want to give the exact premise away yet, but can disclose that it will be somewhere in the neighborhood between The Big Bang Theory and Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Stay tuned for project news including announcements of episode release dates.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:00AM (-07:00)

378

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Two Laptops and a Bored Alt Monday, September 13, 2010 Majic and Botgirl's laptops for machinima shoot. A guest post by Majic Questi Botgirl and Night were up all Saturday night working on their new video and asked me to help. I was excited at first because I thought they might have written a good part for me since Botgirl postponed the video we were supposed to make together. But she just wanted me to keep a chat window open so that her screen wouldn't be cluttered. Since Night was the one actually capturing the video I'm not sure why Botgirl needed my screen space. I guess as an alt I'm used to doing whatever she wants and being treated more like a beloved tool than an actual person. Anyway, I didn't really mind helping out but it was very boring. So boring that I decided to take some video myself. Since Botgirl postponed our project I decided that if I wanted to learn to make machinima I'd have to take matters into my own hands. So I decided to follow Hamlet's example and become an embedded journalist. Not in Blue Mars, but in Botgirl and Night's production. Here's my first video report. It's not really informative but it captured my experience of the shoot. We Won't Be Fooled Again seemed like a fitting background track for my mood. Assuming I'm not banned from the set, I'll be reporting on the rest of the project including voiceover sessions, editing, foley and special effects. If you want to get the non-alt view of the shoot, take a look at Night's post on her new blog. Oh yeah. Botgirl and Night want go give special thanks to brgn Halberstam from L+N Signature Designs for donating her remarkable SCORPIUS Steampunk ship to the project. See it and her other astounding creations inworld here.

Posted by Majic Questi at 06:39AM (-07:00)

My Take on the Second Life Should Be More Like an iPhone Idea Tuesday, September 14, 2010 Surfing between worlds. I'm very grateful that I'm not the CEO of Linden Lab. There has been so much tainted water under the bridge over the past few years that just about anything he says or does is going to stimulate a fair amount of negative emotional response from the community. Take this fairly innocuous statement as an example:

One of Second Life's biggest problems, says CEO Philip Rosedale, is that it's not enough Botgirl's Second Life Diary

379


like an iPhone. From the moment you open the box on an iPhone, it's fun to use, and in playing, you learn how to use it. The whole process is pleasurable. Second Life is nothing like that, learning to use it is a long process, and painful for many people. Philip Rosedale in interview with Mitch Wagner. There's scant debate in the Second Life Community that the SL client's steep (painful) learning curve is a key reason 99% of people who register for Second Life don't end up as active users. Nevertheless, the social networks were immediately full of snarky comments. Not that I don't like snarky comments. I'm just saying that I'm glad I don't have his job. Narcissistic introduction aside, the most fascinating aspect for me when considering the juxtaposition of iPhones and Second Life is the relationship between the paradigms of Pervasive Computing and immersive Virtual Worlds. Pervasive Computing is the first real step towards bona fide human cyborghood. I think Philip actually understated the transparent integration between device and mind/body for heavy users. When humans use tools, the brain experiences them as a temporary body part. Repeated use actually alters how the brain maps the physical body. For those of us who are almost never separated from a net-connected smart device, I think it is likely that our brains ends up treating the associated attributes as being physical capabilities, be they perception, memory or communication. So when we are separated from our devices it feels as if a part of our body or mind was taken from us. Virtual Lobotomy While Pervasive Computing today extends human capability within the context of the atomic physical world, Second Life and other immersive avatar-based environments not only extend our bodies and identities into a digital physical world, but also provide the means to transform them into very fully realized beings who are experientially distinct from "standard human". Just as the brain eventually recognizes a physical tool to be part of the physical body, I suspect that sustained long-term embodiment as an avatar will eventually extend one's psychological experience of "being an avatar" through physiological changes in the brain and nervous system. A unique aspect of this transformation is that it is impossible to be fully present simultaneously within a virtual world and the physical world. Like the Rabbit-Duck Illusion, for those with distinct virtual identities you can only be fully one or the other at the same time. Like a ventriloquist and his dummy the sum is much less than the distinct parts. As you've probably noticed, this post is more of a ramble than a thesis. I'll leave it here for now with a quote from Marshall McLuhan:

At the very high speed of living, everybody needs a new career and a new job and a totally new personality every ten years.

380

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 09:42AM (-07:00)

Can You Beat "Build Your Dream, & Live Extravagantly" for a Sec... Wednesday, September 15, 2010 Google Sponsored Link for "Second Life" Google Sponsored Link for "Virtual World" These are actual Google "Sponsored Links" that Linden Lab purchased for the search terms "Second Life" and "Virtual Worlds". Are these the best pithy description of Second Life to attract new users? Let's give them a hand and come up with some better ads! I'll be back tomorrow with some ideas of my own. In the meantime, please share any great ideas you come up with. Of coure, parodies are very welcome. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:10AM (-07:00)

Second Life New User Experience: From Banner Click to First Rez Thursday, September 16, 2010 There's been a lot of discussion over the last year about the dreaded "first hour experience" in Second Life. Just yesterday, my friend and partner in creative crime Nightflower posted 3 Lessons Linden Lab Can Learn From LOTRO in New World Notes. Before any first hour experience is possible, there must be some event that motivates a neophyte to register. Since many new registrations originate with a Google-powered ad, I decided to role play as a Twilight wannabe. I clicked one of Linden Lab's vampire-themed banners and followed it all the way through to my new avatar's first rez in Second Life. Everything went very well at first. I expected the banner link to just dump me at the secondlife.com home page. Instead, it sent me to a nice vampire-themed landing page that led me through a series of simple steps to register. Very well done! The trouble started when I logged in to Second Life. Although it did rez me within a vampire RPG area, I was left alone with absolutely no help in figuring out how to use the client or to make sense of the environment I was dumped in. I gave it a reasonable try, but only lasted about five minutes before giving up and quitting. You can see what happened for yourself here. I think it's probably a pretty good representation of why so few people end up transitioning from new Second Life registrants to active participants. Maybe instead of talking about the first hour experience we should focus on the first ten minutes and work out from there? BEST VIEWED FULL-SCREEN IN HD

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

381


Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:09AM (-07:00)

Move-See-Interact vs Fast-Easy-Fun: Lessons of the Second Life New ... Friday, September 17, 2010 The user experience depicted in yesterday's video illustrated that there is a hierarchy of needs when it comes to Second Life. Before someone can get to fast, easy and fun they need to be able to move, see and interact. Although Orientation Island and the mentor program were kludgy and unsophisticated training mechanisms, they were certainly better than nothing. Although starting off a newcomer in an area that matches their interest is a great idea (IMHO), it is useless without fundamental instruction in the abc's of functioning in the world. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:03AM (-07:00)

Cool Animation Test for Upcoming Second LIfe Machinima Saturday, September 18, 2010 Since Night is handling the shooting and editing of our in-progress machinima series, I thought it would be fun to create a 15-30 second "theme song" segment we can use at the opening of each episode. My goal is to create a look that does not feel like it was created in Second Life. The soundtrack and dancing are just placeholders to evaluate the three effects used to make this short clip. I'm leaning towards the outlines on the wall for now.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:12AM (-07:00)

Second Life Hexagram of the Month: "Work on What Has Been Spoiled" Monday, September 20, 2010 I decided to do an I Ching reading on the problems we face in Second Life. The Pentagram chosen for the reading is "ku: Work on What Has Been Spoiled." WORK ON WHAT HAS BEEN SPOILED The Chinese character ku represents a bowl in whose contents worms are breeding. This means decay. It has come about because the gentle indifferece of the lower trigram has come together with the rigid inertia of the upper, and the result is stagnation. Since this implies guilt, the 382

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


conditions embody a demand for removal of the cause. Hence the meaning of the hexagram is not simply “what has been spoiled” but “work on what has been spoiled." From the Wilhelm-Baynes translation of “The I Ching or Book of Changes“ Although talented people are still doing exciting work within Second Life it is hard to deny that the virtual world as a whole has been stagnating for the last year or two: • Stagnating from marginal active population growth that otherwise would have brought in new people and their fresh energy, ideas and revenue; • Stagnating from endemic foundational technical problems such as broken search that if fixed would have enhanced commerce, improved user satisfaction and increased participation in Second Life events and activities; • Stagnating from multiple management errors that have contributed to a very low level of trust and optimism within the community. Despite a temporary respite with the return of Philip Rosedale, recent Linden decisions are once again poisoning the well such as the lastest out of the blue ruling dumped on a key community without discusion or notice; • Stagnating from a scarcity of breakthrough artistic, social and commercial activities that would invigorate, inspire and transform; and • Stagnating in a generally narrow public discourse that gives lip service to the 'art of the possible' while plodding along with business as usual. As our reading continues, the good news is that it's not too late to turn things around: What has been spoiled through man’s fault can be made good again through man’s work. It is not immutable fate, as in the time of STANDSTILL, that has caused the state of corruption, but rather the abuse of human freedom. Work toward improving conditions promises well, because it accords with the possibilities of the time. We must not recoil from work an danger – symbolized by crossing of the great water – but must take hold energetically. Success depends, however, on proper deliberation ... We must first know the causes of corruption before we can do away with them; hence it is necessary to be cautious during the time before the start. Then we must see to it that the new way is safely entered upon, so that a relapse may be avoided; therefore we must pay attention to the time after the start. Decisiveness and energy must take the place of the inertia and indifference that have led to decay, in order that the ending may be followed by a new beginning. Hard to argue with that! Of course, the devil is in the detail and the real work is the doing. So dear reader, what are you going to do about it? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 05:50AM (-07:00)

Who is Playing the Customer Role in Second Life Agile Teams? Tuesday, September 21, 2010 There's been a recurring meme on Twitter over the past few months that Linden Lab employees don't use Second Life very much themselves. Just last week, Delinda Dyrssen revived Paisley Beebe's Mentor a Linden Day concept:

If some of the really hard core users who spend many hours trying to educate, work, create, collaborate and or play in SL were to spend a few hours with some of the key Linden Labs employees.. one on one..doing what they do..showing these talented Linden Lab people the pitfalls.. the needs, the it would be cool or useful if we could, just even how to sit down or put on a pair of shoes (Phillip did say it was difficult to do that). Then..and only then could they really come up with a viewer and platform that serves

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

383


most people needs in a Fast Fun and Easy way. I have no idea how many Linden Lab employees use Second Life on a regular basis. Certainly very few of them are openly active members in Second Life communities. In any case, it made me wonder who is playing the customer role in Second Life agile teams. The key to a successful Agile approach to software development is that the voice of the customer guides the entire process. Agile methodology builds software through a series of short iterations that are typically one to two weeks in length. At the start of each iteration, the person or acceptance team in the customer role sets the development priorities for the week and helps define the acceptance criteria that will be used to test whether the iteration's work is successful. The Agile process breaks down if there aren't people on the acceptance team who have a deep, working knowledge of the end-user perspective. Although the resulting software will work well from the team's point of view, it may not be useful to the customer. A good analogy is a French cooking team trying to create a new dish for the Thai market. Although the resulting product will be delicious to the European palette, it may leave a bad taste in the mouths of the intended customer. So I wonder who is playing that role on the Linden Lab Scrum teams. Any Lindens care to weigh in? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:06AM (-07:00)

Botgirl Shares Her Secret Strategy for Twitter Success Wednesday, September 22, 2010 I've wrestled with appropriate Twitter strategy on and off over the last couple of years. Since Mr. Crap Mariner started a ranked listof Second Life tweeps, I thought this would be a good time to rethink the topic. Of course, the initial area of inquiry quickly took on a life of its own so I ended up with more of a meditation on human happiness than a plan of action for Twitter. Maybe next time. :) Any good strategy starts with a clear understanding of the goal we seek to achieve and its underlying purpose. In most cases, the tangible object of our desire is actually a means to a greater end such as happiness for self and others, love, respect, selfimprovement, wisdom, etc. Unfortunately it is very common to go through life repeating behaviors that either don't support such underlying higher-level needs or actually undermine them. We don't do a very good job of predicting what will create happiness in our lives. One concern I have about the trend to gamify life is that it seeks to manipulate our behavior by associating intense, but short-lived gratification with the achievement of otherwise meaningless rewards. It creates the illusory sense that we have satisfied some foundational human need within an intentionally addictive framework that keeps us checking in with Foursquare or following back people on Twitter to inflate our follower count. Although we know in our hearts that being Mayor of Starbucks or being in the top ten of Second Life tweeps isn't really a reflection of being worthy of love and respect, we keep pressing the treat lever like good little lab rats.

384

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


That said, I do believe that Twitter can be a genuine vehicle that contributes to the happiness of self and others. It allows us to share information we believe is of value to others. It can be an avenue to initiate friendships that can deepen over time and repeated interaction. It can help us keep in touch with existing friends, colleagues and distant family. It can support our professional life through "personal branding" and providing a vehicle to demonstrate expertise in our field of knowledge. I have to admit that my own use of Twitter isn't entirely enlightened. I check Twitter Grader from time to time and have thought about how I might increase my score. But I usually come to my senses and seek the same kind of obliviousness I have to Plurk Karma. Wish me luck! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 01:38PM (-07:00)

My Top Ten Rules For Responsible Twitter Use Thursday, September 23, 2010 1. To quote Kurt Vonnegut: "Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time is wasted." 2. Periodically review your last few pages of tweets. Are you follow-worthy? 3. Don't make people click twice to get to content. If needed, switch the link in a retweet while still crediting the original referrer. 4. The value of retweets to your network are those that cross social circles. RTs are of no use to those who have already seen the initial tweet. 5. Be a bridge by sharing interesting links that significant numbers of your followers have probably not seen before. 6. Use a service like bit.ly for your links so that you can monitor the number of clicks they receive. It's a much more dependable indicator of the value of what you share than retweets. 7. Don't follow more people than you have time to read. This means you will eventually need to prune your followers. 8. Stay away from flame wars. Don't respond to trolls. Block as needed. 9. Have fun. 10. Follow me. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:46AM (-07:00)

My Take on the Impending Demise of Avatars United Friday, September 24, 2010 Linden Lab announced it will shut down social network Avatars United on September 29th, less than a year after its ballyhooed acquisition. The purchase occurred at a time when Linden management was infatuated with social networking and had dreams of somehow transforming Second Life into the next Facebook. I'm not sure how acquiring a poorly designed, kludgy and sparsely populated vehicle like AU was supposed to get them there, but I suspect that a very low price tag had something to do with it. Anyway, its impending demise begs the question of what should come next. My answer is NOTHING! Avatar identities are already all over social networking and media sharing sites. I personally participate in strong and active avatar communities on Plurk, Twitter, Botgirl's Second Life Diary

385


Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo.So as far as I can figure, there is not much incentive for virtual world users to add another social network, especially one that is tied exclusively to a particular virtual world platform. We have it pretty good as it is. My advice to Philip and company is keep improving the Second Life platform and leave social networks to the existing players. The weekly beta build schedule of the SL2x client is a promising start. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:08AM (-07:00)

The Caerleon Museum of Identity Opens This Saturday Monday, September 27, 2010 After a year of development, The Caerleon Museum of Identity (formerly known as the Ambiguity of Identity Exhibition) will open this Saturday at 12:00 SLT, on Caerleon Isle (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caerleon%20Isle/219/128/40). On the following Saturday, October 9, there will be a performance of Gracie Kendal's theatre piece "VB15 - GRACIE / KRIS" at noon, with 16 live avatar models from Vaneeesa Blaylock/Company. There will be a media preview for journalists and bloggers on Tuesday the 28th from 1:00-4:00 pm SLT. I've included the full press release below, written by FreeWee Ling. Here's a little video teaser I whipped up to give you a small taste of what's in store.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

The Caerleon Museum of Identity Debuts Saturday October 2 with Grand Opening Gala in Second Life Collaborative Multi-Artist Exhibition Features Works of 18 Artists The Caerleon Museum of Identity is the latest in the series of sim-wide collaborative installations by the Caerleon Artists Coalition, a project of the Virtual Art Initiative. The show opens Saturday, 2 October at 12:00 PM (noon) on the Caerleon Isle sim, (http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caerleon%20Isle/219/128/40). Additional entertainment (tba) will begin at 1:00. A media preview for journalists and bloggers will be held on Tuesday the 28th from 1:00-4:00 pm SLT. On the following Saturday, October 9, there will be a performance of Gracie Kendal's theatre piece "VB15 - GRACIE / KRIS" at noon, with 16 live avatar models from Vaneeesa Blaylock/Company. The Caerleon group was established by Georg Janick (Dr. Gary Zabel of the University of Massachusetts, Boston) and consists of artists, writers, musicians, and scholars who are

386

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


using the immersive and interactive digital media to develop new forms of artistic content. Members of the coalition are among the most respected and imaginative artists working in SL. Georg Janick’s six Theses on the Art of Virtual Worlds are the framework for the series of collaborations on the Caerleon sims. In addition to major builds on each of the six theses, there have been numerous theme collaborations on various topics, including consumerism, imprisonment, surrealism, and masks, as well as limited resource challenges like the one-prim and limited texture shows. The Caerleon Museum of Identity is an interpretation by the collaborative team of Georg’s fourth thesis: the Ambiguity of Identity. It states in part, “…digital bodies, and the names that uniquely identify them, can be altered, multiplied, discarded, or exchanged at the will of the user. Since bodily presence is open to such radical discontinuity, the identity of the virtual person is protean and ambiguous, including indicators of age, gender, race, and even biological species.” The project has been in development for over a year. Weekly discussions about the project inevitably centered around the subject of identity and how people in virtual worlds both express themselves and interact with others. This is a subject of tremendous interest to many in SL, and some of the team members have formed the open Creative Identity group to continue talking about issues, especially as they relate to creative work. The early development of the museum metaphor and leadership for the project was the work of Sabrinaa Nightfire, who has run a number of the Caerleon theme collaborations. When Sabrinaa had to withdraw for personal reasons, it fell to FreeWee Ling to take over the coordination of the team and she has brought it finally to the opening with the tremendous support of all the artists. This is the first project of this magnitude FreeWee has done in SL. “It’s a very rare opportunity to work with so many creative people. This is why I’m in SL–to be creatively engaged and to be constantly inspired by talented colleagues. I am so grateful to Sabrinaa recommending my membership in the Caerleon group, for her inspiration on this project, and for her friendship. The Identity team dedicates this build to her with our love and best wishes.” The 18 artists participating in this collaboration include: • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Artistide Despres Botgirl Questi Cat Bocaccio Chrome Underwood FreeWee Ling Fuscia Nightfire Gracie Kendal Ian Pahute L1aura Loire Lollito Larkham Maya Paris Nebulosus Severine Pete Jiminy Pixels Sideways RAG Randt Sabrinaa Nightfire Botgirl's Second Life Diary

387


• Taralyn Gravois • Wotthe Dickins EVENTS: SLURL: http://slurl.com/secondlife/Caerleon%20Isle/219/128/40 OPENING: Saturday 2 October 2010, 12:00-2:00PM, and continuing through October. DJ Mommaluv Skytower for opening party. MEDIA PREVIEW: Tuesday 28 September, 1:00-4:00PM SLT VB15 – GRACIE / KRIS in an encore performance, Saturday October 9 – Noon-1pm SLT. Gracie Kendal presents her theatre piece with 16 live avatar models from Vaneeesa Blaylock/Company. performance artists. MACHINIMAS: Ian Pahute: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=symG_03vh1Y Botgirl Questi: http://vimeo.com/15307758 RESOURCES: NEW SL GROUP: CREATIVE IDENTITY A group for artists and others to discuss ideas about identity and creativity. This began from the discussions leading up to the Caerleon Artists Collective’s show on the topic of the Ambiguity of Identity, October 2010. We decided to continue the discussions beyond the show and to invite others to join us. Bring coffee and/or donuts. Or cake. But definitely coffee. And chocolate. The Thesis by Georg Janick (Gary Zabel) (Source) 4. Ambiguity of identity results from the fact that our bodily presence in the virtual world is mediated by a digital representation. All dwelling within a world involves being present in a body which both constitutes our perspective on things and makes us present to other embodied experiencers. Though personal identity can be a very complex construction, its ultimate foundation is continuity of bodily presence. However digital bodies, and the names that uniquely identify them, can be altered, multiplied, discarded, or exchanged at the will of the user. Since bodily presence is open to such radical discontinuity, the identity of the virtual person is protean and ambiguous, including indicators of age, gender, race, and even biological species. CURRENT LIST OF PROJECT TITLES/DESCRIPTIONS (In progress) Fuschia’s Flickr group We request that people post pictures from the exhibition here. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:15AM (-07:00)

Transworld Identity Exhibit Highlights Independence of Avatar from ... Wednesday, September 29, 2010 Hanging out at media preview of The Caerleon Museum of Identity People experience avatarian life in different ways. For some, it's merely an extension of atomic identity with an overt connection to the underlying human. Others create a pseudonymous digital identity that takes on a life of its own with no public connection to its atomic counterpart. Although many of us tend to think about those two ways of approaching virtual identity as binary poles, they are really waypoints on a continuum that transcends our best attempts to place the mysteries of life into nice little boxes.

388

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Art and story offer a way to escape the clutches of our categorizing and reductionist mentality. I think that as a group, the exhibits at The Caerleon Museum of Identity offer a more mindopening look at virtual identity than any collection of academic papers. After wrestling for a year with what I would contribute, I finally decided to focus on the transworld nature of avatar identity:

Avatar Identities that were born in Second Life now extend into other virtual worlds, MMOs, social networks, blogs, media sharing sites and atomic human consciousness. Every work that I included in this exhibit was created either completely or primarily outside of a virtual world to illustrate the independence of avatar-based identity from any particular platform or medium. Artist's Statement for my Transworld Identity exhibit in The Caerleon Museum of Identity. The works include drawings created on an iPad, an action figure photo comic, and a composited conversation between a virtual Botgirl and a RL ventriloquist dummy. Although they do not form a linear narrative, the conceptual approach weaves its own story of a virtual muse that has escaped into the physical world. I invite you to come see the entire show for yourself. It opens this Saturday at 12:00pm SLT on Caerleon Isle and will continue through the month of October. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:17AM (-07:00)

Behind the Scenes Look at Collaboration Process for Machinima Creation Thursday, September 30, 2010 Night is putting the finishing touches on our upcoming machinima series, "Night and Day". It's the most ambitious virtual project I've worked on to date and involved close collaboration from the initial story discussions through final editing. Although you'll have to wait until Monday to see the first episode, I thought it would be interesting to share some of what went on behind the scenes in its creation including the tools we've been using to collaborate. Night and I had enjoyed working on the Night vs Human comic together a couple of years ago and were looking for a new concept worth pursuing. The idea for "Night and Day" was born in a series of GTalk chats that Night transformed into a draft script using Google Docs. We worked together to fine tune the script through additional chats and edits and eventually decided on an old fashioned episodic cliff-hanger format. Scheduling is almost always an issue in collaborations outside one's day job, so the use of cloud-based document sharing and ad hoc chat allowed us to move forward through small windows of time. After a couple weeks of preparation, Night had finalized the

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

389


shooting script and a shot list. Our first virtual location shoot was in Second Life on sets we assembled for the project. It concentrated on the two scenes for the first episode. Night is the primary cameraperson and editor for this project and worked very hard shooting while I lounged and enjoyed a few cocktails. Night assembled a rough cut which she uploaded to the cloud-based Dropbox service, which is the primary vehicle we use to share large files. She recorded her voice track and uploaded it to Dropbox, so that I could review it and make sure that Botgirl's takes matched well. I uploaded the tracks I recorded and Night created an audio mix including sound effects. She then uploaded a rough cut of the video including audio, which I used to create the musical soundtrack. While Night was shooting the LOTRO segments and editing the primary video, I was working on the opening identity segment we'd use for all of the episodes. We both used Apple's Final Cut Pro Suite for video and audio editing, which made it easier to share the video and audio files that would be integrated to create the final product. Here's a visual representation of our collaboration universe: We plan to release the first episode on Monday. Stay tuned for details. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:16AM (-07:00)

Avatar Life Insurance Company Launched Friday, October 01, 2010 A false sense of security? Today, you're walking on a beautiful beach with the one you love. Prim hair blowing in the breeze. Surf sounding in the distance. Your recently purchased 500 position sex bed is ready to provide you and your partner with infinite hours of intimate pleasure. It seems as if your virtual world will always be young, fresh and full of opportunity. Here at Avatar Life Insurance we don't like to be alarmist, but EVERYTHING YOU KNOW AND LOVE IN YOUR VIRTUAL WORLD CAN BE TAKEN WITH YOU IN AN INSTANT WITHOUT WARNING.

Only time will tell whether recent rumors about a Microsoft takeover of Second Life will prove true. But it is fair warning that your Second Life is lived at the whim of the Linden Lab Landlords. And they can pave it over or sell it out from under you in a heartbeat. And there is absolutely nothing you can do about it. Botgirl Linden. Happy ALI customer The good news is that we at Avatar Life Insurance 390

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Company can offer you a policy to protect your virtual life when disaster strikes. When you open up a basic policy, we will register your avatar name on the top 20 OpenSim grids and upload your avatar shape, skin and up to ten outfits of your choosing. If Second Life becomes Sharepoint 3D overnight, you can simply log into another world and start your virtual life fresh, with the name and shape you've come to love. For even more protection, our deluxe program extends protection to a wider set of virtual worlds and virtual places. We will register your name, create an avatar and establish a basic inventory on five additional platforms of your choice, including Blue Mars, IMVU and Twinity. And if you have special needs, we are happy to accommodate you. We have furry, tiny, Gorean and even griefer programs that can quickly get you back on your feet (whether two, four or none) in a jiffy. So get in touch with Botgirl Questi to learn more about this exciting new program that can protect your virtual life and the virtual lives of the ones you love. For only pennies a month, you can rest assured that you and your virtual family will survive the demise of Second Life. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:21AM (-07:00)

Conceptual Art Project Hides Within New Machinima Sitcom Monday, October 04, 2010 Night and Day is a new machinima series that takes the buddy movie genre into the virtual world. Although written as a sitcom-level comedy, it's also a conceptual art project that plays with the dance of fact and fiction in the expression of pseudonymous identity. On the surface, the video series is "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" meets "Charlie's Angels" in the virtual world. Night is a smart, hot party girl who loves to see and be seen at the trendiest dance clubs, parties and VIP events. Botgirl is a reclusive mini-skirted Spock-like genius who is befuddled by Night's social circus parade. But behind the outer level of what will hopefully be experienced as LOL/OMG comedy, there is a subtext of Night and Botgirl as fictionalized versions of the real Night and I, who are in themselves fictionalized expressions of so-called real humans. The conceptual art aspect of our trilogy is the triune nature of our characters and the way that narratives contribute to the creation of identity. The first episode is set to premier later today. Stay tuned. The video premiered here on NWN. Read Night's thoughts on our collaboration on her blog. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 10:37AM (-07:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

391


Identity and Being Thursday, October 07, 2010 My ongoing exploration of identity has taken many twists and turns over the last few years between the launch of this blog and the recent opening of the Caerleon Museum of Identity. For all my writing, stories, video, comics, infographics and other meditations on the topic, I always end up on the shore of Emptiness. Emptiness in the Buddhist sense that nothing possesses intrinsic or enduring identity. So if that is the case, what has been the point of all this musing? One reason has been to use such exploration to uncover, bring to light and deconstruct the fictional nature of identity. Despite knowing better intellectually, I habitually experience a pervasive visceral sense of the solid identity of self and others. The creative process is one way to lift some of the veils. Another purpose has been to experience the creative joy of the journey and to develop and practice new skills in the mediums I've dabbled with along the way. Identity has been muse, canvass and tool for much of my artistic work. In one sense, Botgirl is essentially an ongoing piece of performance art on the idea of identity. Finally, it has helped me increase my ability and determination to not be hypnotized by outer identity so I can be more fully open to the sentient being within. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:23AM (-07:00)

Anti-Spoiler Alert: Totally Misleading Clue Hidden in "Night and Da... Saturday, October 09, 2010 If you missed the video, here it is:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 04:24PM (07:00)

392

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Identity as Mask, Filter and Window Monday, October 11, 2010 As I was pondering a comment Splash Kidd made last week on identity, the analogies of masks, filters and windows came to mind:

• masks that project a constructed image that hides underlying aspects of our self • filters that accentuate certain dimensions of our personality while diminishing or coloring others • windows that provide a glimpse into deeper levels of our being that are usually hidden We meet the world through a multiplicity of masks, filters and windows corresponding to roles such as parent, employee, student, party goer, etc. The way we dress, the style and substance of our communication and even subconscious expressions such as posture can vary quite radically between roles. Although this seems to beg the question "Which is the real you?", upon reflection it's apparent that the being behind each persona inherently transcends any particular expression. It seems to me that all three modalities can be used to consciously explore the multidimensional expression of our being. Although the realities of physical existence limit the roles one can play in the atomic world, virtual identities offer us an almost unlimited potential to break out of habitual modes of expression and connect with new aspects of one's being. There are many ways to play with virtual identities. Some people have a single identity that morphs into different forms and characters. Others create multiple "alts", each expressing a particular persona that deepens over time through a continuity of narrative. Like just about anything in life, the trick is to be immersed enough for deep and authentic experience while maintaining a spark of an observing consciousness to stay awake in the dream. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 02:19PM (-07:00)

The Great Twitter Unfollow Purge Wednesday, October 13, 2010 It's becoming harder and harder to keep up with my Twitter stream. Too many posts. Not enough time. So I decided to do a little research and unfollow those who tend to post a high volume of tweets that aren't in an area of my interest. I planned to start off with Botgirl's Second Life Diary

393


followcost.com, but I didn't see a way to run a batch and generate a ranked list. I ended up doing it the old fashioned way and clicked through a name at a time on the Twitter web site. That isn't a very efficient way to go through hundreds of names, so after an hour I'm not even halfway through. But I have learned a lot about what I don't find useful. For instance, a constant stream of: • Personal information from people I don't have personal relationships with. • foursquare check-ins • meal reports • running statistics • general emo • weather reports • Commercial announcements for events or products I'm not interested in • Links to favorited videos or music • References to god or political opinion Now none of the categories I mentioned are bad in themselves. If you habitually post in one of the categories above, I will assume that most of your followers (or at least your mom) are waiting with bated breath to know things like the temperature in your home town, your breakfast menu each morning or the dozen videos you favorited today. But since I personally don't have much use for such information, I hope those I've unfollowed (who notice) won't take it personally. I also ended up unfollowing people I didn't recognize who hadn't posted in over three months. Although they don't clutter my Twitter stream, I think its a bit disingenuous to keep following people who aren't active just because some of them will unfollow me eventually out of spite and hurt my rankings on Crap's list of top Second Life tweeps. So that's my story. The purge continues. I feel so clean! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:27AM (-07:00)

Night and Day iPhone-Produced Retro-Future Mash-Up Short Friday, October 15, 2010 I captured a bit of the action on an iPhone Tuesday, as Night was shooting video for our next episode of Night and Day. This little clip was put together while playing with the new version of Vintage-Video. The audio combines a few snippets from episode one, stitched together with loops on Garage Band. The final video was edited and rendered on an iPhone using iMovie. I was going for a future-retro 1920's/2020's look with a cheesy 1970's soundtrack. Fun! Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:23AM (-07:00)

Human, Avatar and Doll: The Conflation of Identity, Image and Story Monday, October 18, 2010 The subject in the foreground is a 2010 Delilah Noir doll. The image in the background is from an antique reproduction of the 1879 lithograph, Cherry Ripe. Although we "know" that the underlying humans we interact with in virtual worlds look nothing like the avatars who meet our eye, it is almost impossible to refrain from relating to them outside of a significant psychological association with their visible form. In my personal experience this is not only true when the viritual identity is pseudonymous, but also when the human 394

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


is known to me, even when he or she is of a different gender than the avatar representation. What is the relationship between the stories we hold about people related to their physical appearance and the real beings we encounter? Noticing how we psychologically conflate the obviously constructed appearance of avatars with the underlying person can help us upon our eyes to the same processes at play in the physical world. Another place to notice the fictional construction of identity based upon physical form is our projection of personality on inanimate objects such as the doll and lithograph in the image above.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:25AM (-07:00)

Creating our Virtual Future Wednesday, October 20, 2010 This post extends a few of my tweets from last week with the #transworlder hashtag. Someday we'll look back on Second Life as we would a childhood home that once was the center of our universe.Second Life was the first virtual world most of this blog's readers were born into. As we have grown from digital nubehood into virtual adolescence and beyond it has not evolved correspondingly. So it's not surprising that the environment that once felt so limitless and open now seems constraining and uninspiring. That said,although the honeymoon with Second Life is long over, finding a new virtual world to love is just a temporary fix for a passionless digital life. Although I was one of the first bloggers urging people to take some of their eggs out of the Second Life basket, the intention was to protect virtual assets rather than to find some greener digital pasture. I'm all for exploring different worlds and think that emigration will certainly make sense for many people. But there's no virtual utopia. That's something we need to create together. To that end, I recommend Pathfinder's great post on empowering ourselves to collectively move towards the future we desire. Obsessing about Linden Lab plays into a One World mentality. Better to take that energy and explore other options. After three years of watching community members post hundreds of blogs, tweets and comments related to boneheaded moves Linden Lab has made, I can only think of a couple of times such communication made an impact on the policies it critiqued. Although I also find it hard to resist the weekly opportunities to weigh in (like yesterday's news of Philip's departure) it would probably be more useful to channel that energy into more creative tasks.

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

395


Today, a virtual world can live on a USB key in your back pocket. Tomorrow your avatar may live in a chip implanted in your head. Although there will certainly be technological advances that we can't foresee, I'm convinced there are significant opportunities to enhance virtual worlds that will arise from our creative use of existing tools. So what are we waiting for? Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-07:00)

Cloud Runner: More Play with iPhone Created Second Life Machinima Thursday, October 21, 2010 Here's another little experiment with Second Life machinima shot and edited on an iPhone. It was captured yesterday during the final shooting session for the second episode of Night and Day. While Night was sweating over the real shots, I passed the time with a little retro-inspired fun. Night will be busily editing over the weekend and we hope to have the new episode out early next week. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:55AM (-07:00)

Chat With My CyberTwin! Friday, October 22, 2010 Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:30AM (-07:00)

Evil Botgirl: A Dark Social Network Experiment Sunday, October 24, 2010 Evil Botgirl Twitter Avatar We all have a lurking Shadow that projects the negative judgements we repress about ourselves onto other people. At 8:00 AM Pacific Time tomorrow, @evilbotgirl will launch her debut Twitter rant to personify and give voice to my own inner demon and perhaps channel the darker side of our collective unconscious. This is dangerous work. Even within the context of supposedly self-reflective performance art, there is a strong seductive glee that arises in the expression of mean-spirited criticism. So I'm not sure whether this will be a one time performance or an ongoing series. In any case, I invite you to join in by contributing your Tweets to the hashtag that will be announced tomorrow morning and by following @evilbotgirl and the coming Twitapocalypse. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 11:00AM (-07:00)

396

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


What Does the Silent Majority of Second Life Think? Tuesday, October 26, 2010 Second Life has about about a million active residents of which maybe a few thousand routinely follow the blogs and social networks that discuss issues related to Second Life. I wonder about the silent majority of avatars who don't immerse themselves in the social network stylings of the Second Life Elite or the profound pontification of the Top Second Life Blogs . . . those who don't know Crap from Prokofy, Gwyneth from Grace or Dusan from Dale. What are they thinking, feeling and doing about the current and future state of Second Life? Are they oblivious to the story lines of the soap opera that endlessly plays across our blogs and avatarian social networking circles? What does the silent majority think? I have no freaking clue. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-07:00)

More on the So-Called Silent Majority and a Fun Little Video Thursday, October 28, 2010 Here are a few points that clarify my thinking related Tuesday's Silent Majority topic: â&#x20AC;˘ I don't believe that reading Second Life blogs or participating in related social networks is necessary to maintain an educated point of view. Knowing "Crap from Prokofy" wasn't meant to be an example of useful information, but rather one of SLebrity trivia. I intentionally didn't reference important issues as such as the impact of the new viewer, problems with search, etc. because I assumed that anyone using Second Life with regularity discusses such topics within their inworld social circles. â&#x20AC;˘ I do believe that participating in blogs, social networks and other internet searchable vehicles allows one's ideas to have immensely greater reach and longer stayingpower than communication limited to inworld channels. This isn't because we have better ideas or are more important. It's because search engines can find our content. For instance, when someone types 'second life sex chat bot' into Google, my blog is the first search result. (Maybe that wasn't the best example.) As more inworld events and forums are archived to the web via video and chat logs, this may equalize a bit. â&#x20AC;˘ "Silent Majority" wasn't meant to designate a monolithic cultural group or market segment, but rather as a memorable term referring to those who choose (for whatever reason) not to actively participate in Second Life blogging and social networking circles. I didn't mean to imply that I expected a single point of view on particular topics. Quite the contrary. I'm curious about what's up within Second Life sub-cultures which don't have a strong web-based presence. Based on the relatively large number of comments on the post, I think this is a topic that Botgirl's Second Life Diary

397


will probably bounce around the Second Life blogosphere a bit. It's a microcosm of the broader question of how modern society is impacted by social networking and the everblurring line between creators and consumers of information. Since Michele Hyacinth reminded me of my prior commitment to less words and more dance videos, I'll leave you with this song and concept video I created last year that relates to the topic at hand:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:04AM (-07:00)

Andy Kaufman and the Cross Gender Avatar Friday, October 29, 2010 Do you suppose anyone ever said 'I am comfortable with the Cathy character because she is the same gender as the person who created her. But Heathcliff is the opposite gender! Oooo I need to lie down I am so disturbed'? Was it ever considered a disgrace that Juliet never admitted to Romeo she was 'a man in RL' (remember that in Shakespeare's day only men were actors)? Uhhh no, because it is understood that a character need not be of the same race, age, gender, nationality, religious outlook etc etc as its creator. Nor is the creator obliged to stick to his or her 'true' identity. Mary Evans did not do anything wrong when she wrote under a male name, now did she? But in SL if a guy roleplays a female and does not go around telling everyone 'I am a man, really!' it is considered a crime or something. from a blog comment by Extropia DaSilva I still get heat from time to time for being a female character created by a male author/performance artist. I guess it shouldn't be surprising that some people are uncomfortable, creeped-out or pissed off about the gray area I intentionally play in as an obviously fictional character who actively participates in a very real community. It seems to me that those of us working in this area virtually are the digital descendants of Andy Kaufman who also lived in the no man's land between fact and fiction, life and theater. I leave you with this short profanity-filled video clip. Remind you of anyone?

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:20AM (-07:00)

The Avatarian Meaning of Halloween Sunday, October 31, 2010 Halloween Edition of Sophrosyne Under Glass Welcome brother, sister and indeterminate-gender avatars to the Halloween edition of Botgirl's Second Life Diary. Halloween is a descendent of Samhain, an ancient Celtic holiday that celebrated the time of year when the border between the physical and spiritual world was believed to be especially thin and permeable.

398

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


Although we typically think of virtual worlds as environments where humans can transport their everyday consciousness into avatar form, I believe the opposite is also true. For virtual worlds also provide a portal through which beings from the deep subconscious can emerge into the waking world. So please join me in taking some time today to savor and celebrate the interplay we are privileged to experience between the atomic and digital; the physical and virtual; the actual and imagined; and the human and avatarian. In the coming year, may we find the courage to relax our grasp on mundane identity and open ourselves to the multidimensional wonder that awaits. Happy Halloween!

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:47AM (-07:00)

My Fall From Grace Tuesday, November 02, 2010 Growing up After days of conversations around the Silent Majority posts, I've been struck by a visceral sense of longing for the deep joy I experienced in my first year of virtual life when I roamed Second Life in innocence, bliss and open-hearted benevolence. Although I didn't realize it at the time, the gift of Eden was only granted for as long as I refrained from sharing the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge and remained within fully immersed impersonal pseudonymity. During the first six months or so, my emerging consciousness was completely bounded by my character within the virtual world. When confronted with any information that was outside the boundary of my backstory, I responded as if I was just learning about it for the first time. This induced a powerful state of beginner's mind which facilitated a seemingly never ending stream of micro-realizations and a sense of perfection in thought and deed. No matter how hard I was pressed, I not only refused to provide any personally identifying information, but steadfastly refused to even admit to a human behind the avatar. This allowed my interaction with others to be open-hearted and impersonal, from Botgirl's Second Life Diary

399


the perspective of a being who was free of all biological drives, psychological baggage and selfish interests. My fall from grace finally came when a number of evolving friendships tempted my human creator to inject himself into the relationships, one small disclosure at a time. And like the mythic Eve, from the very first taste of the forbidden fruit, it was only a matter of time before my Adam and I were expelled from our idyllic home. For our union could not create a whole that was greater than the sum of our parts, but instead spawned a shadow that eclipsed and homogenized our individuated suns. Of course, there were other factors that led to my current incarnation as an openly fictitious identity. And I don't know where I would be today if I had resisted my biological brother's intrusion into my world. Perhaps I would have been completely abandoned due to the unsustainability of living two full and fully firewalled lives simultaneously. And like they say, there's no going home. I'll leave you with the original three comic panels that were created to share the story of my origin. Although I had planned to expand this into a larger narrative, they still stand alone:

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:23AM (-07:00)

RANT ALERT: You're all a bunch of selfrighteous hypocrites Thursday, November 04, 2010 Get with program, old-timer. You're like, "When I was a kid, fiction stayed within the printed page where it belonged and would not dream of stepping out into the real world." Excerpt from my reply to @prokofy in Fall From Grace post This rant is directed at those of you who have criticized others for not expressing their "real self" in online identity. I'm going to prove that you're a self-righteous hypocrite in just a few easy steps. Unless you're too scared to take the test I propose. Ready? Take a look in the mirror. I'm not being metaphoric. I mean get up from your chair, walk into the bathroom and look into the mirror. If you're wearing any makeup or hair products, wash them off. Go ahead. I'll wait for you. Now dig your phone out of your pocket and take a head-shot photograph of yourself in

400

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


the mirror. Ideally, you'll use a nice magnified makeup mirror that shows off your complexion in all of its glory. Got it? Great! Next, take off all of your clothes except for your underwear and take a full body photo. No sucking in your gut! Don't fix your posture. Alright. You can go back to your computer. Now upload the headshot you just took and replace all of the cool avatar images that currently represent you online such as your twitter avatar and facebook profile picture and replace it with the head shot you just captured. Next, replace any larger images that represent you with the full body shot. And if you have a blog, add it to your "about me section". While we're at the "about me", we might as well make sure your real self is reflected. Take a few moments and replace whatever is there now with the plain truth. Something like: "Middle aged, overweight under-achiever unable to form lasting intimate relationships. Enjoys self-medicating with alcohol and compensating for low self-esteem by attacking others on the internet." All done? No? Why not? Haven't you expressed the opinion that it is unethical to misrepresent yourself virtually? The truth is that everyone is selective about what they represent about themselves online. This extends from the images we use on profile pictures to the comments we make in social network streams and blogs. And the question of authentic representation is not just about what we share, but about what we withhold. So unless you're ready to present a no-spin, unadorned, unretouched depiction of yourself including all of your dirty laundry, please stop whining about others and get your own fake-ass house in order. Authentically Yours, Botgirl Questi

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:43AM (-07:00)

Griefers, Trolls and Flaming Kittens Redux Monday, November 08, 2010 This is a first in a series of articles that will republish posts from 2008 with additional commentary. April 30, 2008 There was an interesting conversation in Twitter today around the question "what in Second Life offends you?" Even venerable CodeBastard Redgrave had a limit: Being spammed with...Zippocat...a picture of a RL kitten, being burned to death by stupid teenagers using Zippo fuel...the fact someone took a real animal, poured gas on it, and burnt it for real. Offended is an apt word for the feeling we reflexively experience when thinking about someone intentionally burning a kitten to death. It comes from the latin word offensa, meaning "a striking against, a hurt or displeasure." We experience pain and then mentally Botgirl's Second Life Diary

401


strike out to attack and shut out to defend. We clench our fists and close our hearts. I realize that many people believe that offense is a justifiable response to the malicious actions of others. Although I often react that way, I aspire to meet all experiences with a peaceful mind and heart. I am inspired by people who have met hate with compassion. The Dalai Lama recounted meeting Lopon-la, a Lhasa monk he knew before the Chinese occupation. Lopon-la had spent 18 years in a Chinese prison before he was released and came to India: He told me the Chinese forced him to denounce his religion. They tortured him many times in prison. I asked him whether he was ever afraid. Lopon-la then told me: 'Yes, there was one thing I was afraid of. I was afraid I may lose compassion for the Chinese.' Peace in the face of griefers and distant kitten burners seems a relatively achievable goal November 8, 2010 Assuming we can retain a semblance of inner peace, there is still the challenge of deciding if and how we should respond externally to communication that strikes us as mean-spirited, abusive, contemptuous or otherwise tinged with ill intent. The first thing to consider is that we may be misreading the other person's intent or exaggerating the maliciousness of the message. That's a common problem in virtual communication. We often fill in the blanks of missing emotional meta-data such as body language, vocal tone, pacing, etc. with negative projections. Even if we're accurately reading the negative tone, it's quite likely that the venom is less directed at us personally than at what we represent to the other party. Flame wars on social networks and blogs are mostly between people who have never met in real-time or have had a chance to develop relationships prior to the current conflict. We weave a few scattered impressions into the visceral sense that we know the other person. We don't. Unfortunately, the process of projection is really hard to notice within ourselves. It's certainly hard for me. So over the last couple of years, my general philosophy has been to ignore flamish behavior on social networks. In blog comments, I try to respond with a mixture of reason and humor. In at least some cases, I've found it is possible to move from initial antagonism to constructive conversation. On the other side of the coin, I've blocked one person on Twitter when multiple attempts at constructive conversation failed. In any case, counting to ten is always a good idea! (The comment thread from the initial article can be found here.) Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-08:00)

(aborted) RANT ALERT: To Those Who Don't Get It Wednesday, November 10, 2010 Don't ask for whom the griefer label fits, it fits for thee. When you say, I don't get why you people do/think/believe/want that, I get it: â&#x20AC;˘ I get that you haven't made a sincere effort to try to understand â&#x20AC;˘ I get that you freely misrepresent the "other side" to make your points â&#x20AC;˘ I get that you are interested in advocating your viewpoint, not discerning greater truth And I get that I do the same damn thing. The more I think about the question of griefers and trolls, the more I'm becoming 402

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


sensitized to the way we all suffer internally from the very same qualities we disdain in others. We express it publicly in blogs and social networks when we respond to others' thoughts in order to attack rather than to understand. We express it privately in conversations when we smugly point out the stupidity, immorality, wrong-headedness or other undesirable qualities of another group or individual. As a matter of fact, I'm doing it right now. So, I'll shut up and leave you with St. Francis' prayer of peace: Lord, make me an instrument of your peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; when there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. Grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood, as to understand, to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive, it is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying [to ourselves] that we are born to eternal life.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:00AM (-08:00)

Self-Censorship is Best Left for the Morning After Friday, November 12, 2010 Gonzo Visual Version of Tweet This post collects and extends yesterday's tweets on #creativity

â&#x20AC;˘ Self-censorship is best left for the morning after: It's 3 A.M. You've been flirting your ass off all night with a smoking piece of work. Suddenly, you realize that you're so intoxicated by passion that "art goggles" may be clouding your vision. You worry that in the cold hard light of morning you may wake to find that your brilliant new beauty is actually a worn-out monstrosity. Please don't fear! Take heart and consumate with Botgirl's Second Life Diary

403


wild abandon. You have been gifted by the Great Muse herself. At least for tonight. • Creativity is not my servant. I am hers. • Some people create to express their vision. I create to reveal what I have not yet seen. • Inspiration is a gift. Have you thanked your Muse today? • All art is collaborative because it rests upon eons of work by countless predecessors. • There is nothing free of cliché. There is nothing completely clichéd. Dig deeper because there is something inside of us longing to be born. • Play is creativity's natural habitat and passion her midwife. • It's true that you can't please everyone. But you can't offend everyone either. God save me from the lukewarm. I leave you today with a fun little video from one of my human counterpart's blogs. It's a good RL example of the type of playful, ad-hoc creativity we enjoy in the virtual world.

. Posted by Botgirl Questi at 06:28AM (-08:00)

When I Paint My Masterpiece Monday, November 15, 2010 During the break between episodes of Night and Day, I've been romancing a concept for a new micro-machinima. The idea revolves around the fluidity of identity as creative process. Over the weekend, I finally came up with a visual approach, which you can get a taste of in the image above. I hope to finish the video this week. Until then, here's a video of a 1976 performance by Bob Dylan of "When I Paint My Masterpiece". Bob Dylan - J Baez - Hard Rain 76 - When I Paint My Masterpiece Kern ( I Want to Be Dylan ) Little | Myspace Video Oh, the streets of Rome are filled with rubble, Ancient footprints are everywhere. You can almost think that you're seein' double 404

Botgirl's Second Life Diary


On a cold, dark night on the Spanish Stairs. Got to hurry on back to my hotel room, Where I've got me a date with Botticelli's niece. She promised that she'd be right there with me When I paint my masterpiece. Oh, the hours I've spent inside the Coliseum, Dodging lions and wastin' time. Oh, those mighty kings of the jungle, I could hardly stand to see 'em, Yes, it sure has been a long, hard climb. Train wheels runnin' through the back of my memory, When I ran on the hilltop following a pack of wild geese. Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody When I paint my masterpiece. Sailin' 'round the world in a dirty gondola. Oh, to be back in the land of Coca-Cola! I left Rome and landed in Brussels, On a plane ride so bumpy that I almost cried. Clergymen in uniform and young girls pullin' muscles, Everyone was there to greet me when I stepped inside. Newspapermen eating candy Had to be held down by big police. Someday, everything is gonna be diff'rent When I paint my masterpiece. Written and performed by Bob Dylan Posted by Botgirl Questi at 08:47AM (-08:00)

No One Can Steal My Identity (in Heaven): The Video Wednesday, November 17, 2010 After a couple of weeks of pseudo-intelectual discussion about identity, it's time to take Michele Hyacinth's standing advice again to shut up and dance on the topic. This particular dance is a strange little surrealist trip that juxtaposes fluid avatar image deconstruction with a gospel song about identity. Hopefully you'll find it both fun and a bit disturbing.

Posted by Botgirl Questi at 07:25AM (-08:00)

Botgirl's Second Life Diary

405


0100675541

Non-customer created content Š SharedBook and its licensors. All rights reserved by their respective parties. Patents pending for the SharedBook technology. NOT FOR RESALE. For personal, noncommercial use only. LIABILITY LIMITED TO COST OF PRODUCT.


Botgirl's Second Life Diary: 3/8/08 - 11/17/10  

March 3, 2008 - November 17, 2010

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you