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Archive for the ‘Online Worlds’ Category

The Metaversal Scream

Thursday, April 12th, 2007

the metaversal scream




The image tearing is a glitch. I love glitches. They were easy to create in the early days of computer imaging but are now almost impossible to find. Luckily there’s Second Life, which is full of them.

This is from a capture taken in Second Life at an art opening at the Metaverse Gallery.

And here’s one from back in the day, made by crashing Photoshop

An MFA Show in Second Life

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006

MFA Show at the Metaverse Gallery in Second Life

One of my long time students, Kyle Kondas, has set up his MFA show in Second Life. We had another interesting opening last night at the Metaverse Gallery on the ATEC Island. This has to be a first.

The show features his video art - abstract patternage based on games. Check it out now (free Second Life account required, download here).

Thus Spake Blake Wake

Monday, May 15th, 2006

Blake Wake Second LifeI’ve
been working on my avatar in Second
. His name is Blake Wake (and he just bought a virtual island from
Anshe Chung for
some reason

are two basic approaches to this. One is to develop a character that more or
less mimics your real life persona. The purpose of this is to represent yourself
in 3pointd space for often pragmatic reasons: the journalist or entrepreneur
that needs to maintain a level of transparency and develop trusted relationships
that transcend a particular virtual world.

The other approach - one which I
find much more compelling - is to develop an alternate persona. The could-have-been
or the wish-I could or simply a doppelganger with better hair and fewer skin

In my case I am fancying the idea of developing an avatar or two that represent
a set of ideas particular to the virtual world. Unfortunately most of the ideas
in virtual worlds are shovelware - ideas shoveled from the real world into
virtual space. Some have argued this is jut what we should do - create virtual
version of real world people, events, and transactions. Certainly there is
a role for this, but I’m more interested in the imaginative possibilities of
these spaces.

There are two areas that are of interest. One is architecture and the other
is religion. On the architecture front Blake Wake is, er, I am working on
a "theory of virtual architecture." Or maybe it is a theory of place
making. Either way, someone needs to do something. Most of the building going
on in Second Life mimics real life structures. Now much of this is due to the
fact that SL has modeled itself on the real world, even down to the problematic
land ownership structure. Yes there is still an up and a down, and avatars
look like humans, but you can fly and teleport yourself anywhere instantly.
your buildings can float. Right now coming up with a "theory" is
basically ridiculous considering the size of SL. But this is an early adopter
playground and at some point in the near future there will be a metaverse and
people will build places. The question is what to take from thousands of years
of place making and what to jettison and develop new ideas appropriate for
the varying rules of virtual spaces. Stay tuned for Blake Wake’s ideas.

Blake Wake AvatarThe other area of interest is religion, and many of the comments above apply
here as well. If you think that SL and the metaverse should mostly be a place
that RE-presents (read presents again) the real world, then having churches
and praying to Jesus makes some kind of sense - even though there
are so many layers of mediation going on it is befuddling. On the other hand
- and its way to early for this - there amy be a kind of religious experience
that can only be mediated through virtual space. If not only, then substantially.
A virtual church is no more abstract and no less symbolic than a real one.
More on this later as well.

Of course the contrast I present here is in many cases much more of a blur.
The typical MySpace or Facebook profile is in some sense an avatar, and a selective,
online version of the person. The question is whether avatars like Blake Wake,
insofar as I decide to distinguish him from my real life person, are substantial,
meaningful entities. Right now they are attached to games and worlds like Second
Life, but this will change.


Second Life Makes Business Week Cover

Sunday, April 23rd, 2006

Second Life Virtual World

Virtual land ownership and Second
made it to the cover
of Business Week. Cat’s out of the bag folks.

SL is doing a lot of things right. For one thing it’s not really a “game.”
And like the best of new web content it is generated by its participants. But
it is not governed by its participants. This is because SL is a private
- which in my view means is it an interim world. Open worlds are
the future of virtual places.

As public space disappears and becomes privatized it makes open virtual spaces
all the more important.

Welcome to Second Life, Let’s Grope

Friday, January 13th, 2006

Second Life Online Virtual WorldWelcome
to your Second Life, your new virtual world awaits you! The hope of a new life,
free from all the real people you know and the sorry state of your own appearance.
You can look like you’ve always wanted to look! Plus, no smells!

Oh, but wait. First this guy wants to put his hand in your pants.

And this is just what happened to a student of mine as he entered Second
for the first time. Second Life is an online world that allows you
to own virtual land and engage in various business and interpersonal activities:
flirting, gambling, building things, groping, etc.

While I’m not opposed to groping in an of itself, and I’m certainly not against
online worlds, this quite common event shows just how far these worlds still
need to go.

In the near future most people will have multiple avatars in multiple, interconnected
worlds engaged in all manner of activities - not just games and diversions.

And just as the pornography industry blazed many an Internet trail, so too
will they work out the kinks (so to speak) in online worlds. In Second Life
you can go to stripper bars and watch naked pixel women writhe before you in
all their herky jerky, motion captured glory. If you give them Second Life currency,
they will do other things for you.

One of the big problems with these worlds at the present time is that they
are all privately owned, commercial ventures. Yes this will move the technology
and the ecology of virtual culture forward, but certain areas will be ignored,
such as shared spaces. The immersive digital commons.

For this we need an open-source movement in virtual worlds. One they are available,
people will want virtual “rooms” and they will want to interconnect
them, just the way they interconnect now with flickr
and facebook, and all the
other social
tools. People will connect their spaces organically, like the blogosphere,
free from any overarching dictator - which is exactly how online worlds are
governed now.

Once we have real public space in online worlds then we’ll have an online world
worth entering.