So how much more real does it need to be?!

In a series on virtual World Makers, Draxtor Despres just released this wonderful interview with inworld designer, Eshi Otawara – enjoy :-)

Virtual artwork – just like the physical artwork – stimulates the brain – so how much more real does it need to be?

It’s not a non-existing universe – it’s there, it exists – if you just release yourself of that prejudice of what’s virtual, that it’s not real  – it will make you happy!

/Mariis

Btw: I had the great pleasure of meeting Draxtor and Eshi along with a bunch of other amazing avatars at the SLCC09 – and we were … HAPPY!

Visiting Scholar at UC Berkeley

This is just a brief post to explain that I’m currently a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley (UCB). I arrived on March 29th and have been spending the past two weeks getting accustomed to my new environment. I’m here on a four month grant offered by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society (CITRIS) at UCB and the Danish Agency for Science, Technology and Innovation (DASTI), which is an institution under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

Professor Ruth Tringham from the Dept. of Anthropology is my faculty host and besides working at UCB I hope to also visit other universities in the area. I’ll be working on the concept of remediation in an effort to refine and most likely reform my model(s) for remediating people, places and practices – and needless to say future posts on this topic will follow…

I first discovered Professor Tringham back in 2008 when I read an article she had written together with colleagues Ashley and Mills on remediating places, and I had the opportunity of meeting her f2f in SF last August when I was attending the SLCC’09.  Tringham and colleagues also have been using SL and meet regularly with their students on their research island, Okapi.


Mariis on Okapi Island – a remediation of  Çatalhöyük, a 9000 year-old Neolithic village located in present-day central Turkey

I’ll end this post by expressing my personal gratitude to three people in particular:

:-)))

/Mariis

Virtual Relationships and Roadside Philosophy

Another new friend I made at the SLCC is Pamala Clift also known as The Roadside Philosopher.  Pamala held a well-attended Sunday morning session entitled “Shhh, The Realities of Virtual Relationships”. The crowd seemed diverse with representatives from all the communities, which actually is no surprise since we all have to deal with relationships no matter our in-world intentions. While waiting for everybody to get seated Pamala played this video to set the tone of the session:

As another interesting way of getting us started Pamala asked us all to fill out our 1.life profiles with “catchy” descriptions, she then read out loud our descriptions asking the audience if this particular person was someone people might be interested in meeting RL and then we were asked to stand up and show our RL avatars. This was quite daunting to me – not because I hide my RL identity, but because I’m quite shy RL. I really missed my avatar in that moment, but I did get up feeling safe in the company of kindred spirits. Interesting experience…

Pamala proceeded with a presentation of her thoughts on SL relationships bravely disclosing her own experience with her newbie in-world marriage and her current relationship with in-world partner Yossel – a relationship her RL husband accepts. Others from the audience told their stories of trying to make cross-over from SL to RL relationships – heartfelt stories that were very far from this successful story Hamlet just reported on.

As I understood it there had been some doubts on whether a session like this would be appropriate for the convention, and I’m guessing it has to do with the potential mature content. And yes there was talk about sex and human genitalia, but if anybody could pull off a session like that, it would be Pamala. With her very warm, humorous and open minded spirit she managed the session with elegance, and in all fairness sex was only a very small part of the conversation – emotional relations between humans and avatars were predominant.

I found myself to be quite smitten by Pamala’s personality and back in Denmark I decided to join her in-world group “The Roadside Philosophers”, and yesterday I participated in a 2 hour discussion on Post Mortem Existence at Pamalot.

RP_003

Post Mortem Existence is of course a very complex topic and I’m not able to refer to any conclusions since we evidently didn’t reach any. It was, however a very nice experience. The meeting was well-attended, people were open and friendly and Pamala moderated very well.  The group was founded back in 2007 and holds biweekly meetings on different topics chosen by the members. Here’s the description from the group charter:

1st person group..using SL as a metaphor in the search for truth.. Your thoughts are just as valid as any. Out-of-the box thinkers. Individuals that like to challenge convention by exploring new ideas. No rudeness or hostilities allowed. Brain storming can only work if no idea is stupid but presented with rational thought.

RP_008

To me being in SL is in itself an ontological challenge and I do so enjoy philosophical discussions, so I’ll be joining these meetings whenever possible. Next meeting will be on September 5th, at 8 AM SLT and the topic will be Dreams. Possibly something on the logic and reality of dreams … I’m not quite sure, but Pamala will refine the topic before sending out a group notice.

/Mariis

SLCC – because we can and because we care!

Please note that all photos were taken by Armi(nasX Saiman) :-)

Again this year I had the great pleasure of attending the Second Life Community Convention (SLCC’09). Like so many others I’ve been asked about the purpose of avatars meeting in “real life” – isn’t it a contradiction in terms? Well, no.  First of all, I have yet to meet an avatar who doesn’t regard Second Life just as real as the atomic world. Second, we meet because we can and more importantly because we care.  For sure SLCC is not like a conventional (academic) conference, but I also do not think it was ever intended to be that. SLCC is about community – if nothing else, I think most of us can agree that SL is a very social media. Being part of a community means caring and taking responsibility for both yourself and other members. On the last day of the convention I heard there were some negative posts on the event, and yes it probably could have been organized differently, but I don’t want to focus on that – suffice to say I have the greatest respect for all the volunteer organizers – thx for caring!

Kissing
Who doesn’t care for Coughran – Eshi and I sure do :-)

Like Crap Mariner I find it difficult to point at the best moment of SLCC with soo many to chose from, but reconnecting with Armi, Bevan, Beyers, Chimera, Coughran, Dera, Eshi, Phelan and Starr, whom I all had the pleasure of meeting in Tampa at last year’s SLCC definitely tops my list. Having Claus from Pop Art Lab around at this year’s convention also was very nice. Claus and I only met briefly f2f prior to the event, so it was good getting to know each other better, and both Claus and I enjoyed being able to speak Danish and thus relax our brains a bit in between the many activities. BTW Claus set up an occasional blog for the SLCC ’09.

Bevan
Bev and I sharing one of many, many laughs :-)

Making new friends is also very much part of the convention, and I was fortunate to meet a lot, but instead of listing all the names I’ll be looking forward to seeing you guys in-world.

In general, I think meeting avatars can be compared to meeting a favorite author of yours – at least to me SL is very much about storytelling; so many lives, so many narratives. As a very special treat of this year’s convention I got to meet some of my favorite bloggers besides Armi, whom I’m proud to be able to call my friend in all types of reality; Dusan Writer, Hamlet Au, Bettina Tizzy and Olando7 Decosta – all of whom I enjoy reading and respect very much.

Hamlet
Meeting Hamlet – woot :-)

Besides attending a few prioritized sessions in the educational track, I purposely attended other tracks and tried to connect with people outside the educators’ community while I do believe one of the many strengths of SL is diversity and being able to learn from people who think differently. One of the highlights of this was meeting James Larken Smith. Coping with some type of AVM, James found his way in-world and was one of the many representatives of the SL community for disabled. All the in-world work that is being done for people with different challenges such as disabilities or problems (like Coughran’s amazing work with young drug-addicts) truly shows that SL is about caring.

This will be it for now. I have to admit that I’m still feeling somewhat jetlagged, and I actually don’t think it’s solely due to the cross-Atlantic flight, but rather has to do with the fact that I’ve met so many amazing, clever, different, fun, caring and hugging people that both my body and soul is completely filled up and I need time to process …

Hugs & kisses to everyone who once again contributed in making SLCC  just as special as we deserve it :-)

/Mariis