Denise Caruso and Clay Shirky opened Supernova 2007 this morning by approaching the socially networked environment of the World Wide Web from two different directions. Caruso’s basic thesis was that people needed to break out of their insular social networks and take additional risks in order to bring in a greater variety of viewpoints and push innovation forward. Shirky called for the industry to rely more heavily on love, and posited that love would be a better indicator of where the IT industry is headed than business models are. Continue reading
The virtual world of Second Life got a little bit stranger for me this week. I went over to see Destroy Television the other day at the gallery where she’s hanging out at the moment, and my avatar, Walker Spaight, ended up marrying her! (That’s Destroy’s rock at left.) Now, if you know me and you know my Second Life, this is slightly unusual, since for me there’s very little space between myself and my avatar(s) in the virtual world. I use Second Life as simply an extension of my first life; there’s nothing virtual about it. But here I was role-playing the lovestruck journalist to Destroy’s hard-to-get videographizing vixen. Walker even started a Tumblog about his romance. The formal ceremony was yesterday afternoon (Walker was all nerves — though he didn’t show it), and you can view images of the happy couple together on Destroy’s Flickr stream.
It struck me at some point that what I was doing — along with Annie Ok, who was driving Destroy at the time, and Jerry Paffendorf and Christian Westbrook, who conceived Destroy and brought her to life — was creating a little Alternative Virtual Reality Game, in a way. I don’t write a lot about alternate reality games (ARGs) — i.e., narratives that involve audience participation, which usually have some real-world component, and which often feature a prize or reward at the end — mostly because I don’t really roll with them as a genre. Things like Perplex City and World Without Oil are very cool, to be sure, and I’ve been fascinated to see how this stuff is developing, but I’ve always found myself rubbed the wrong way by this “alternate reality” moniker. But it wasn’t until I started getting my alternate reality on, via Walker, that I realized why. What’s going on in all these cases looks to me less like “alternate reality” than it does like fiction, and fiction being formulated on the same level as broadcast media like television — i.e., it’s just the same kind of fiction that’s happening in a TV show like Law & Order, for instance, only with the audience involved in writing the story as it goes along. From some angles, it looks like there isn’t any such thing as an alternate reality game at all — there’s only the fiction / narrative / media of the future. Continue reading
Second Life resident and Fo3 qDot Bunnyhug, one of the top teledildonics engineers in the world, has a new project: The Naughtyizing of Croquet. Yes, the humble roboticist from
Arkansas Oklahoma is going to spend the month of April hooking a variety of motorized sex toys to the open-source virtual world-building platform Croquet. qDot pioneered teledildonics in Second Life about a year and a half ago, and gave a great demo at SXSW06 of a vibrator that could be remotely controlled by an Xbox controller. Now he’s got his sights set on Croquet, which should provide fertile ground for the kind of remote sexuality of which qDot is a master. Plus which, if there’s anything that’s going to focus attention on a platform that’s not getting enough, it’s sex. What I loved about qDot’s rap at SXSW was that he sees teledildonics not so much as a tool for cheap Internet hookups as a way to bring couples who are separated for whatever reason closer together. For qDot, it’s more about the love than about the sex. Stay tuned at Slashdong, his blog, for continuing reports.
Only cricket fans will realize that I don’t mean 50 years here, I mean 50 episodes. That’s right, the 50th episode of SecondCast, Second Life’s favorite podcast, is now on the air. We’ll pass our one-year anniversary sometime in February, which means we’ve been keeping up a remarkably good schedule of almost a podcast a week. Once again, kudos to Johnny Ming for pulling it all together and keeping us in line. Tune in to Episode #50 for a long discussion with Aerdr1e Fabre of Second Life matchmaking service Tea and Sympathy (which can be found in the »Infamy region« of SL (in a skybox, natch), and hear what Cristiano’s looking for in a mate. And despite the fact that I’ve been having Skype problems lately (grrr), downloads are apparently higher than ever, currently running at something in the low five figures per episode. Wow. Nice to know that someone other than ourselves is enjoying what we’re up to. Special thanks to Matthew in Georgia for the extra cool illustration he sent along to celebrate Episode #50 — and for continuing to listen despite the fact that he hasn’t used Second Life in months! Interesting.
Virtual world services company Rivers Run Red forwards a press release from Talpa Digital about the DropZone project the two are producing in the virtual world of Second Life. Covering four SL regions, DropZone will host a festival stage, virtual skydiving, an area for viewing television programs piped into the virtual world, and a nightclub called Mundo, which will be the virtual arm of the Dutch dating site of the same name. In addition, “Talpa Digital is currently developing a unique technology for a virtual world version of Skoeps, the new citizen journalism site in the Netherlands. Offering the residents a chance to send in their Second Life skoep to huge billboards throughout this virtual world.” (Or at least, throughout the DropZone sims.) Perhaps more significantly, energy drink Red Bull will use the DropZone “to introduce their athletes in a live chat with their fans and to stream extreme sport events.” Continue reading
Fans of Showtime‘s long-running series “The L Word,” which is a kind of San Francisco lesbian version of Sex and the City (and a pretty entertaining show, actually), now have a place to hang out in the virtual world of Second Life. Built out by the Electric Sheep Company (sponsors of this blog), »The L Word« sim in Second Life is a hangout for fans akin to MTV’s Virtual Laguna Beach, a re-creation of portions of the show that fans can occupy themselves. There’s a special L Word in Second Life page on Showtime’s site, and the Sheep have even taken advantage of Linden Lab‘s registration API to create a Showtime-branded SL signup page. This is the first such page I’ve seen and is an especially cool development, as it starts to push SL more toward being a service and away from being a hermetically sealed world. The project also has its own orientation island. Continue reading
Four Eyed Monsters, the movie I’ve been blogging about periodically here, is finally getting its screening in the virtual world of Second Life, tomorrow at 5pm SL time (8pm Eastern). The screening will take place at the Sundance Channel‘s Second Life »screening room«, as part of Sundance’s entry into SL. (Sundance is a client of the Electric Sheep Company, sponsors of this blog.) The movie is a hugely interesting take on life and love both online and off, and addresses along the way questions of identity and how that’s changing in our increasingly virtual world. Check out the machinima invite that filmmakers Susan Buice and Arin Crumley have made for the film. They’ve really taken to SL since being introduced to it by me and Jerry Paffendorf a while back. Both filmmakers will be at the screening to chat with audience members. This is highly recommended viewing. [Oops: Forgot to mention that the film will simultanously be shown at a handful of other locations around SL, and you can even host your own. See the Sundance Channel’s Second Life page for more details.]
As noted, I did a panel last night on lifelogging with Jerry Paffendorf and Susan and Arin of the film Four Eyed Monsters, which is playing for another week at Cinema Village in New York. I don’t know if anyone had a good idea of what they were going to talk about ahead of time, but the panel turned out to be a lot of fun for us, and seemed to be an interesting experience for the audience, who were happy to share their thoughts with us in turn.
One of the things we touched on was how one expresses identity online, through means like MySpace, YouTube, blogs or your behavior in an online world. One of the things that’s most interesting to me about the film is how Susan and Arin expressed their identities to each other in an offline context. Before they even met, they decided that they’d communicate simply through written notes rather than speaking. Though they speak freely to each other now, the film chronicles some interesting moments in their relationship: not just the moments when one or the other of them found the notes too much to bear, but just the way they unfolded themselves to each other through writing, a much slower process than through speaking, as we normally would. The written word, of course, carries a lot less information than the voice. Not only are there vocal inflections and mannerisms to read, but there’s an element of spontaneity that writing can’t capture. Susan and Arin forgo that channel, though, in favor of getting to know each other through the much narrower band of text. As Jerry pointed out, it’s almost as if their relationship took place in text chat. Continue reading
If you’re free Thursday night and in New York, drop by the Four Eyed Monsters screenings at Cinema Village, where I’ll be on a panel about lifelogging, along with Susan and Arin, who made the movie, and Jerry Paffendorf of the Electric Sheep Company (who are, of course, kind sponsors of this blog). If you’re not in New York, you should be able to see it in Second Life soon enough, which is very cool. The film is ace, all about a young couple (Susan and Arin) who meet on MySpace and document their budding relationship in great detail. Read more about Four Eyed Monsters and lifelogging in this post of mine from back in September. Should be an interesting evening. The panel goes off between the 7:25pm and 9:35pm screenings.
Second Life resident Pierce Portocarrero, one of the virtual world’s most gifted creators of the in-world filmmaking art known as machinima, has been on hiatus of late. He returns this week with a new piece that’s even better than the ones I’ve seen before. Check out Game Over, which aired in-world as part of the latest monthly machinima festival run by Alt-Zoom Studios. Seemingly a parable of love in the age of self-replicating objects (or something like that), the short film features some truly creative character models, an excellently ambiguous plot and ending, and acting that’s conveyed very well through animations and completely without dialogue. It’s a really excellent piece, including in its camerawork and editing. All we need now is for credit rolls to come to machinima, so we’d know if it was Pierce doing all the work or whether there are other people who deserve some kudos as well. Whatever the case, it’s nice stuff, and we look forward to more.
We’ve been twisting the arm of Brian Chirls, who works with Susan and Arin of the Four Eyed Monsters film, to get him to add the virtual world of Second Life to the map of cities in which the film has been requested. (See these two posts for more details; if you can garner 150 requests on the Web site, they’ll show the film in your town.) As you can see above, he’s done it. Thanks, Brian! Just dial up the map to see how many requests have been made (you have to zoom way out to see where on the earth SL has ended up), and don’t forget to put your request in. It would be great to see a movie as interesting as Four Eyed Monsters have a screening in Second Life as part of its worldwide rollout. Only 83 requests to go!
A few of us from the Brooklyn metaverse crowd went to see Four-Eyed Monsters last night, a very interesting feature film about a young New York couple who end up documenting their every move via videotape and handwritten notes, only because they’ve decided not to actually speak to each other. While the film is not a documentary, it was made by the couple who it’s about, and their real lives and dramatized lives do begin to converge toward the end of the film. While it’s a movie about relationships (you know, the kind where two people “slowly start to meld into one beast that has 2 mouths, 4 eyes and 8 limbs and takes up 2 seats on the subway!!!”), it’s in greater measure a movie about the act of recording itself, and what it means at a moment in history when you can store, play back and share as much of your life as you like, with as many people as are willing to pay attention. In this case, Susan and Arin have created a virtual version of their real life together, and it’s interesting to ask what the differences between the two may be, if any — especially in light of similar trends in things like lifelogging, and in the fictionalization of a life like lonelygirl15‘s. And if you stay with this long-winded post all the way to the end, you get to think about how this kind of logging of our lives might help enhance them in some future 3pointD world. Continue reading
Those who experienced The Sims Online know how appealing it was for TSO residents to post their real-life details and photos on the Real Sims Online site. Now there’s a similar service for Second Life, in the form of a site called SLProfiles.com, where residents can match their photos of their avatars to photos of themselves in the real world. I’m not sure how long it’s been around, but it’s only got a couple of dozen members at the moment, so it can’t have launched all that long ago. Looks like May 27 was the launch date, actually, according to this forum posting from SL resident Yo Brewster, who put the site together. The site is similar to SLme, although that site is part of the larger Me.com network, and not specifically dedicated to Second Life. Still, despite its noisy interface, SLme, which has been around longer, seems to have more members. Continue reading
The following link is definitely Not Safe For Work, but it is 3pointD: Red Light Center, “the first adults-only massively multi-user, online-reality erotica community,” recently launched in “pre-beta” and is making a limited number of basic memberships available for free, according to a press release. Of course, Red Light Center is hardly the first 3D adult world, but judging from the screenshots and video tour on the site, it’s pretty well put together — if you like that sort of thing. Continue reading
20-something hipster boy to 20-something hipster girl getting off the subway in Manhattan’s East Village last night: “Yeah, we had to cancel the raid because our Druid didn’t show up.”
There’s a nice piece in the Columbia Spectator titled “Facebook Official,” all about how the “Relationship Status” field on Facebook profiles is affecting users’ offline relationships. This is another good example (see this earlier example) of how small things in software design can have larger social reverberations for the people who are using the tools.
The writer, Miriam Datskovsky, quotes the Urban Dictionary definition of the term:
The ultimate definition of a college relationship – when on one’s facebook profile it says “In A Relationship” and your significant other’s name.
“are adam and courtney dating?”
“i don’t know, they’re not facebook official yet.”