Social norms, privacy, and community

There’s a thought-provoking post about social norms and privacy at Grace McDunnough’s blog, Phasing Grace: Upholding Social Norms

Reflecting upon my early Second Life social experiences and those today I see dramatic changes, especially related to social privacy. For example, part of the subtle but consistent reinforcement from the early community was that the separation between one’s Second Life (SL) and real life (RL) was assumed, and the merger of those two was the decision of each individual to be exposed, discussed, etc. at their discretion and without prompting and if shared, certainly held in the utmost of confidence.

I’ve left a comment with a few of my perceptions as a resident of Caledon, a Quaker and Unitarian Universalist, and a middle-aged avatar (since November 2006, when we had already passed our first million residents).

Victorian decorative arts

Mr Expedition Offcourse and Miss Persephone Gallindo were kind enough to give a presentation Saturday evening on the Victorian decorative arts. It was held in the Gaiety Theatre in Caledon Penzance, which was designed and built by Miss Gallindo. The event was held in voice, occasioning a bit of technical difficulty at first, quickly overcome. (It is clear to me that practicing with the voice function of the client should be on my list of tasks.) Mr Offcourse had a series of technical misfortunes, but he skillfully covered in such a way that participants were not inconvenienced.

Mr Offcourse outlined the broad artistic movements affecting Victorian decorative arts, showing an example from each movement and explicating some of the distinctive elements of each. Miss Gallindo then spoke about the process of building in SL, encouraging her listeners to be constantly looking, both in SL and in FL. Mr Offcourse then gave a short practicum on creating custom textures and sculpties. 

I can’t recommend this book

And I was so excited about it: Designing Your Second Life: Techniques and inspiration for you to design your ideal parallel universe within the online community, Second Life by Rebecca Tapley.

The strengths of this book are exactly as the title suggests: design guidance and inspiration. It is not a how-to book—and Tapley is very clear about that. It does have a few step-by-step elements, but few are sufficient to actually accomplish the task described. The chapters that most directly address design elements are the best: chapter two, Designing Your Avatar; three, Designing Your Look; and eight: Designing Your Empire, although none are free of the flaws found throughout the book.

The biggest problem I have with the book is the errors. The second problem I have is misleading opinions. And thirdly, the editor, if there was one, did a terrible job. A few examples:


p. 15: “512 sq/m [sic] (the smallest possible parcel)” (16 m2 is the smallest possible parcel.)

p. 19: “You can buy mainland property, or part of a private island, or pay Linden Lab to create an entire private island to your specifications. However, you should add in the cost of upgrading your account from Basic to Premium if your Second Life account is currently free.” (No premium account is required to own land on a private sim.)

Opinions with which I take exception

p. 10: “So using the Search feature in-world is tremendously flexible, scalable, and responsive to whatever updates or other changes might happen to SL at large.” (I find it powerful but inelegant, difficult to use, and nothing if not undependable.)

p. 17: “Or you can also earn Lindens quickly and easily by just sitting in a chair, dancing on a disco pad, or filling out a survey.” (I guess it all depends on what you mean by “earn,” “quickly,” and “easily.” Not to mention that you’ll be reviled by most active, long-time residents.)

Bad editing

p. 15: see above (m2 or sq. m. would be correct.)
p. 16: “Second Life is three hundred and sixty degrees different.” (360º is facing back where you started; thus, not different at all.)

And that’s it for chapter one.

Over and over again she uses or introduces terms that have not been defined, or describes scenarios that, I believe, can only be understood if you’re already familiar with Second Life.

Considering the fact that her last chapter, about developing a full sim, takes a Gorean estate as its example, it is indeed bizarre that for nearly two-thirds of the book Tapley keeps referring to things as “naughty.” Finally, on page 122:

By now you’ve probably figured out that “naughtiness” is a synonym for that big elephant in the middle of the virtual living room: sex in Second Life. On the one hand, nobody’s able to really ignore it. Sex and sexual behavior are everywhere in SL. Yet on the other, many residents of SL feel strongly about having naughtiness sprung on them. They don’t want to see it, hear it, or be propositioned with it unless it’s their choice.

If you’re feeling nasty and catty and/or catch me when I’m feeling nasty and catty, I might share with you the rest of the dog-eared pages and marginal notes.

Reflections in First Look

The First Look viewer, when water ripples are enabled, also creates reflections. Here’s an underwater shot of me, up towards the surface, where you can see my reflection distorted by the ripples in the water. Pretty cool.