Saturday, October 30, 2010

Halloween Eve at The House of Usher

Location: Jokaydia Grid, House of Usher Site

Putting up walls and improving textures I made for Second Life is fine, but it's almost the Witching Hour and I want our haunts to work!

I was able to recompile the scripts that worked in SL for the new grid. Copy/paste did NOT cut it.

But now we have our ghosts again, and more are on the's a Poe story, after all.

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Mitch Kapor's 2008 "Closing of the Frontier" Moment

Location: On the hunt for a new frontier

image: "Spirit of the Southern Frontier" Web archive at University of Richmond

During the celebration of Second Life's 5th birthday, Mitch Kapor gave a keynote talk that reminds me of Frederick J. Turner's famous 1893 address at the Colombian Exposition in Chicago, a World's Fair that ostensibly (and a year late) marked the 400th anniversary of Columbus' voyage to the New World.

Turner's "The Significance of the Frontier in American History" created quite a stir in news outlets and, gradually, in the popular imagination.

The ideas are too closely linked for Kapor to have not drawn upon Turner. That's a good thing, in fact. Turner's idea was a shocker to a nation that had an expectation, in spite of all empirical evidence, that "free land" was infinite. I suspect we'll look back at Kapor's remarks in the same way about our (to borrow Diogene Kuhr's term) "ephemeral frontier" in Second Life.

So here are part of Kapor's talk. Have a look, two years on, and see if he was right about the post-2008 era in SL. You can find the entire transcript of his talk here. What do YOU think? Is the frontier era in SL gone? What will replace it? Here's Kapor:

The pioneer era in Second Life is beginning to draw to a close. It has been five years and we are at the beginning of a transition and I think it is an irrevocable transition. And I am hoping what you see now is a slide of a technology adoption curve, a classic bell curve that shows early adopters on the left and then a set of pragmatists as we move from left to right and so on all the way over to the right edge of the curve, we show the laggards. This technology adoption curve is well known for the way to characterize the adoption of these disruptive new innovations. [asks for next slide]

When you see this [rezz in], you should be seeing a big red vertical arrow just at the margin between the early adopter phase and the pragmatist phase. That is really where we are today and I think that has some very important implications and I want to talk about that for a minute. So the first is, in the earliest wave of pioneers in any new disruptive platform, the marginal and the dispossessed are over represented, not the sole constituents by any means but people who feel they don't fit, who have nothing left to lose or who were impelled by some kind of dream, who may be outsiders to whatever mainstream they are coming from, all come and arrive early in disproportionate numbers.

It was the way the west in the U.S. was settled. It is the way Second Life has been settled. And in fact those early pioneers find a very arduous environment. In the early days, you really have to want to be here because life in certain ways is very very difficult, in fact too difficult for most people. It is unavoidable in some sense that there will be a very high attrition rate in the early years while a platform is being built out. It doesn't stay that way of course, it can't, but the difficulties of conditions cause those who stay to really bond together, have something in common.

And that sort of arduous frontier conditions really give these environments their charm and their character, but also their challenges. Ad all that is changing as we speak because people are in the process of discovering that virtual worlds have very pragmatic values to them and this is especially true and will be true in the enterprise sector, as businesses seek to be more productive, be more efficient, utilize the latest technology and then you will find lots of pragmatic users off of virtual worlds, in the same way that in the early years of the internet businesses were not big participants, but they discovered in the mid-1990s that it was actually necessary to be on the net in a whole variety of ways in order to be part of the global market system.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Balance Sheet: Sims in SL and Jokaydia Grid

Location: Cipherin'

As Jed Clampett used to say, "If brains was lard, Jethro couldn't grease a pan." Let's see if I can do any better: Richmond Island vs. Nevermore Sim; it's a smack-down!

Prims allowed: 15K vs. 20K (megas are okay in both places)

Setup Fee: $1000US vs. $0

Tier: $150 (soon to be $295) vs. $20US

Lag: negligible vs. negligible

Off-Grid Data backups: By item with Imprudence client vs. by item + OAR region backups

Number of Avatars: up to 100 vs. 10 or so (soon to rise). I will confirm this fact with Jokay.

Group Rights: Yes vs. Soon (with next server upgrade). I will also confirm this fact with Jokay for readers.

Content: homemade + purchased vs. homemade

Other than losing some fine content from SL's vendors, we come out so far ahead in OpenSim that I'll just pay for our region personally. If we need to expand beyond Nevermore, then I'll see if the university wishes to buy an Island at Jokaydia Grid.

Our project does not need media-on-a prim or large concurrency. The former will come with upgrades, and our biggest groups for classes using Usher have been 8 avatars. For tours, we might get up to a dozen.

Groups will soon be possible in Jokaydia Grid. They are vital for giving those beyond the Estate Managers the right to rezz items that persist. While the grid is educational, mistakes happen, especially with megaprims.

Overall, this grid is a great fit for our project and I hope to see other educators coming over, as well as building other edu-grids hyperlinked to each other.

Speaking Of....The League of Worlds Meets Today!

Thanks to Owen Kelly for this e-mail to the EDUCAUSE VW list.

I'm teaching today during this event, but if you are one of those inter-grid pioneers, log in to SL and join the group. The League of Worlds, founded in 2004, is hosting a "Bring Your Own Grid" meeting today! From Owen:

We are planning to hold Bring Your Own Grid 1, a League of Worlds one-hour in-world gathering on Wednesday, October 27 at 10.30 SL time, when we will explain what we mean in more detail, and invite others who share our vision to join us. If you wish to join, or to find out more, you are invited to attend.

Confirmed attendees, so far, include:
* Scott Diener (Auckland University, New Zealand) of the New Zealand Virtual Worlds Grid
* John "Pathfinder" Lester (as himself), owns an OpenSim region on jokaydiaGrid
* Steve Bronack (Clemson University, South Carolina) of the Carolinas Virtual Worlds Consortium
* Owen Kelly (Arcada University, Helsinki) (new OpenSim grid under construction)
* Lindy McKeown (University of Southern Queensland) aka Decka Mah in Second Life (new OpenSim grid under construction)

The gathering will be held on the island Terra Incognita in Second Life at

Look for the signs at the landing point to the meeting in Spotter Square.

Don't forget, its at Wednesday, October 27 at 10.30 SL time. Check your time at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Our Alpha Prim in Jokaydia Grid

Alapha Prim in Jokaydia Grid
Location: Nevermore Sim, Jokaydia Grid

Well, Iggy Strangeland teleported over from the Reaction Grid Main Grid with gifts for Roderick Usher. At this point, building will be limited to checking where we want terrain, the footprint of the House, etc.

The 200 hours of work done in the summer of 2009 won't be wasted. We could have a House rebuilt in a quarter that time, given the experience with the earlier build.

But just to goof off, Roderick had to rezz a cube. And so it begins!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Packing up, In Bulk, For Jokaydia Grid

New Horizons
Location: House of Usher

In real life, storm clouds on the western horizon as the day around me darkens. In Second Life, my avatar finds the content made by me and uses the magic of Imprudence to export the prims from Second Life.

Next stop, a region I hope to call home in Jokaydia Grid.

Linden Lab does not make moving easy.

The textures do not rip, even when I made them myself. They'll just have to be bulk-uploaded to my Jokaydia grid avatar. There's a bit of peril there, too. I discovered an OS bug that appeared during a crash on the main grid for Reaction Grid; I had uploaded several textures and then, in the midst of one upload, crashed and relogged. There was a lag of several minutes before the textures "caught up with me," even though the inventory window said all was well.

Now I'm boxing a backup of all the 100+ textures I made for Usher and keeping that in the inventory as well. When we have land, a copy will go there, too.

As for the scripts inside of objects that I assembled with Scratch for SL or Scriptme, they too do not export. Copy/Paste to gather them up will have to suffice, to later be tested and tweaked on the new grid.

This job of packing up will extend through the winter holidays, before our island vanishes.

I feel the need for some portmanteau to pack it all up. Since an OAR file (now I know what they are!) cannot be made in SL, it's one file at a time as my SL avatar walks from room to room. The megaprims on which we painted our walls, floors, and roof won't export but need not leave SL: the new House will have a smaller footprint for pedagogical reasons, even though we'll have the luxury of more prims in our new region and the ability to make megaprims on the fly.

For Halloween night I've considered a final tour, as Roderick, of the House. We'll see. I'm still packing up!

Update 10/25: Roderick Usher, our new estate manager, has been created.
Roderick is Born

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Another Must-See at Burn2

Location: sorting & uploading textures to OpenSim
image credit: Miso Susanowa's blog

Today's a busy one for my OpenSim gridnaut, who is working on bulk uploads of textures I made for the House of Usher build.

Since I'll miss the last day at Burn2, I want to thank Deanya Zenfold for this tip. You got a link to Miso's map in my last post, but I'll repeat it here. Get over the the Playa before it all ends! Deanya's advice follows.

Miso Susanowa's House of Cards: The History of the Internet as a house of cards with your sound on! She has been collecting sounds since she was 6 years old, and she has a treasure trove of them at each installation, mind-bogglingly mixed down into compact random-sounding loops. Read about the installation here:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Lost Their Wings: Bryn Oh at Burn 2

Bryn Ohs Build at Burn 2
Location: Remembering what it really was all about

A special thanks to Bryn Oh for her installation at Burn 2 this year. Her work never fails to revive a sense of excitement about Second Life's potential.

After Linden Lab backed out of sponsoring the arts event, not even providing free sims for a few months, I felt let down and, once again, felt it time to look elsewhere for inspiration. See Phaylen Fairchild's story about Linden Lab's preference for fake bunnies to real art.

I like to support SL's artists and Bryn Oh is one of the finest makers of 3D art I've encountered. Her aesthetic is consistent and convincing. So off I went to Burn 2. Not a Linden or fake bunny in sight. Good. The artists pulled it off on their own.

I found navigation at the event difficult until I discovered a Playa map by
Miso Susanowa
. Many thanks!

It was easy to find the build, but it look me longer to get inside. Once I figured out how to enter the unremarkable exterior of her build, as always, I found myself in an immersive wonderland. Bit by bit, I came upon the exquisite sculpture of Lady Carmagnolle, who "painted faces on rocks/ with things/ she pretended they were birds/ who had somehow/ lost their wings"
Bryn Ohs Build at Burn 2

Oh's works within the larger work include, early in the build, a skeletal "Seraphim" and a little Steampunk music box with a video link to "Format." As always in her work, there's a sense of childhood loneliness, a subtle and never-quite-glimpsed menace, and (naturally) exquisite detail. The music box and many other parts of the otherwise darkened interior of the Burn 2 build invite close camming. There's a "prim poem" with a reference to "Angler Girl," one of the highlights of her build from last year's Burning Life, "Vessel's Dream."
Bryn Ohs Build at Burn 2

My wife shoulder-surfed Iggy's journey through the build, and she liked how much of Oh's art, in particular the centerpiece sculpture this year, has been inspired by sewing. It's easy to spot a seamstress' dummy in many figures she crafts. I saw that influence last year at "Vessel's Dream" as well.

It's also interesting to see Oh work with Peter Greenaway, whose films so often are carnal in a literal sense: there's a lot of meat in his work, while Oh's work is so often fragile, skeletal. I like this pairing of these two different sensibilities. Have a look at "Dreams," a video linked from the Burn 2 site and connected to a Greenaway project, "Big Bang."
Entrance to Bryn Ohs Build at...
So find your way through this door while you can. Burn 2 ends soon and we all wonder what, if anything, will follow it in 2011.

I don't mind the sadness of Oh's work, especially this fall as so much seems uncertain about this particular virtual world. Whatever happens to SL and its maker, Oh's work will remain important (and ephemeral) moments to what is not otherwise possible.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Fixing One OpenSim Bug

Location: Reading 3rd Rock Grid Newsletter

I plan to try this in a few grids, to avoid the sort sof gaffs that happened to me earlier (pictured). Hat tip to Let's Rock and the Third Rock team and residents.

Saving Edits to Worn Attachments

When wearing an attachment such as hair, glasses, prim skirts, etc. it is often necessary to edit them while wearing them to correct the positioning, sizing, or other desired aspects. If you log out after doing this, the next time you log in you will find that the attachment has reverted to the state it was in before the edit. What to do?

Fortunately, the solution is simple. After completely finishing any edits, make sure you *detach* and then *reattach* the newly edited items. This, in effect, "saves" any editing, which will now persist after a logout.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Burn 2 at the Stilt Bitches

Me, Sky, and Firery
Location: Dizzy as all get out; Bozo is in worse shape

I wandered aimlessly through Burn 2 today, since my time there this year will be limited. I ran into Firery Broome, an educator in the Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable. With Burn 2 ranger SkyCat Ranger we did some juggliing.

Firery had designed costumes for the Stilt Bitches Flying Circus, and when I went there I had more fun than most mortals are permitted.

Betty flips out
Attractions include a big swing outside, a fortune teller's tent, a flying carpet (I've yet to ride that), and in the big tent a trampoline with the funniest sound effects of "boing boing" I've heard in a while. While lovely female avatars Betty and Amalthea bounced up and down I cavorted on stilts and juggled burning clubs.
Amalthea on the Trampoline
Then I got to punch the snot out of Bozo the Clown. Just what I needed today.

Go by and be a little kid for a while. Bozo can take it.
Burn 2: Bozo gets it!

Shameful Leninist Edupunk Fraud Releases Skewed Results From His Crappy Poll

Location: Counting Beans

And here you have it, readers! 22.9% of respondents will be staying (for sure) in Second Life; another 25.7% will try some combination of the options above. Linden Lab may break even on this price-increase, if my 35 respondents are representative of the larger edu-crowd.

Of interest to me is that none of the respondents plan to leave virtual worlds. 28.6% plan to move their work out of SL, however.

We'll see what occurs next, on the day that rumors of Philip Rosedale's departure from the CEO job at Linden Lab (again) are flying about the ether.

I'll ask for a second opinion about your plans, but let's wait a few months and poll you again. By then many campuses will have come to the end of their contracts and made a decision.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Post 400: Educators Share Plans for Second Life Consolidation & Migration

AJ rallies the team
Location: Reading Transcripts

My 400th post at this blog occurs at a crossroads for educators & virtual worlds.

Many of us are staying in Second Life with our students, at least for the next two years under the new discount scheme from Linden Lab. Many are moving everything but an avatar to an OpenSim grid.

Many are staying with students but their campuses are leaving. Some of us have active presences in other virtual worlds such as Heritage Key (shown above). Others are still shopping for the best deal or building their own on-campus grids.

That seems to be the state of virtual worlds education these days. It was not that way in 2007 when I arrived. Is it an exodus? I think so, but the size of it remains to be seen.

To get a snapshot of the thinking on this issue, consult the transcript for the session "Resources for Consolidating in SL and Exploring OpenSim Grids" contains many good links and ideas for moving forward.

Thanks to Kali for running last week's Virtual Worlds Education Roundtable and to Margaret for getting a transcript in my absence.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Shame, shame, shame on me!


Location: Wallowing in Leninist Mediocrity

For the record, I love the Memory Bazaar at Ross. Best thing Prok has ever done.

I'm enjoying this: we did spend over $200US on content from the House of Usher, but I guess Prok didn't bother to read our thanks to the content providers listed in our visitor center.

Message from Second Life:

[4:52] Prokofy Neva: You are a total *fraud*. I am thoroughly disgusted with you. I've been to the University of Richmond island and I see there isn't at all an authentic issue of not being able to port YOUR OWN content as you have none or little of it there. Kenneth Galbraith has an ugly-textured box. The rest of the stuff are ugly all perms prefabs like Siggy Romulus. The few nice things like from Pielady Smalls *should* be paid for and SHOULD be respected as intellectual property. I will go on exposing you because you are perpetrating outrageous lies, making it seem like you can't port your own content, when you hardly make it. This is not Scope Cleaver's build at Princeton. Shame, shame, shame on you!

[4:53] Prokofy Neva: You have a build that I commissioned in your picks. I paid $250 a day to that builder and it took some days to build -- very low cost, but what I as a person supporting non-profit work in SL on an infohub have done. You have a far higher income and resources than I do in real life. You can't spend a dime on people's work?! You don't realize what goes into a build like Ross? Shame on you, eternal shame.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Bald-Headed Freak to Talk about Second Life & Edu with Paisley Beebe

Location: Ready for my close up, Mr. DeMille

Just a quick note that on Sunday I'll be on "Tonight Live with Paisley Beebe," talking about the impact of the price increase on educators. Paisley did well to invite me this week and not last. I'll even wear a polite shirt!

Thanks to Bliss (pictured) teaching me how not to act the fool on live TV. I did not sit on Paisley's cat during my voice-check, so she slept peacefully as I droned on and on and on.

I'd have done a lot of yelling a week ago. Now, I can at least try to be urbane about the difficulties my colleagues face.

The potential exodus from SL has caught the eye of the mainstream, with Jeff Young interviewing AJ Brooks of VWER for the Chronicle of Higher Education. Nice work, AJ.

I'll try not to be too much of the "bad cop" to AJ's "good cop" while on Paisley's show. Damn.

Poll of Educators & Nonprofits...Plans, Please?

Location: Exporting...Exporting

We have a hard deadline of Jan. 1 2011 to have the content in House of Usher backed up. We should have a little more time into the new year, but I want to be sure Lee and I have our content ready over the holidays.

We've clearly decided to move our simulation to another grid. What has your school decided? I like Lindy Mac's wiki, but participation there has been limited. So what about a poll? I still urge you to join Lindy's site and make a detailed entry.

But share here, too, what your plans are and leave a comment with more details beyond your vote. Expert demographer-avatar Pappy Enoch (with some coaching in survey-design techniques) created this poll for you.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

More Export/Import Madness

Oh Oh, Half-Invisible Man

Location: Pretending to be the Half-Invisible Man in Reaction Grid

Mainstream educators are going to need lots of hands to hold.

Imprudence was crashy today, so I switched to Hippo Viewer in order to try an upload of several objects I've backed up from our build in Second Life.

As noted in the prior post, I have no friggin' clear idea how OAR, IAR, and per-object backups differ. I use oars when I go boating, so I want to thank Lalo Telling for his correction in a comment to my last post.

I'm not atypical here. Many of my VWER colleagues lack even my basic experience with OpenSim or transferring content. Moving over may be easier for the non-builders.

But I'm pleased to say that if non-coder me can manage even the tricks I did today, others can as well.

I tried, without success, to box all of the textures I made in SL and then export THAT. It would have saved many hours of personal time, but unless a clever reader can suggest an alternative, I'll have to upload the textures (it's free at least) to Reaction Grid by batch or one at a time.

One other odd phenomenon occurred. I cannot find the upload/import object settings in the Mac OS version of Hippo. Do they only exist in the Windows client? If so, I'll have to stick to Imprudence, which I find less stable on Reaction Grid, even though I prefer it in SL and in OpenSim.

Top-hat tip (while I have one in SL) to Maria Korolov, whose primer to OpenSim Grids appeared at Hypergrid Business. If you are struggling with what is "out there," have a close look.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Data Back-Up and a Good UI: Secret Sauce for Educators

Inworldz Welcome Area
Location: Climbing Out of Gartner's Trough of Disillusionment

image credit: Inworldz, from Daniel Voyager's Flickr photostream

Reading this story about InWorldz at Hypergrid Business got me to thinking about how OpenSim worlds should not replicate two of Linden Lab's biggest failures.

UI Fail:

No virtual world will bring in mainstream educators and students without a client as intuitive and simple as Unity (or the Jibe client based on Unity from Reaction Grid). I don't know why more grid owners fail to grasp this. Is it a tyranny of thinking like an engineer? Admit it, coders: you often have the same sort of disdain for users that my Physics colleagues have for we bumbling, windy Humanists.

I know this disdain is correct, but could you make it a little more private?

At least the Physicists don't depend on us for a living. Coders working for a grid do, if the grid is a money-making enterprise.

Builder Fail:

I'll say it until I keel over: Educators must be able to import AND export content they create. Backup of entire sims would be even better--something one cannot do in SL.

InWorldz fails here worse than SL, where I can export my own IP, bit by bit, to do with as I please. In InWorldz, "users cannot export their regions or inventories as OAR and IAR archives — a function offered by most OpenSim hosting providers."

I'll know more about InWorldz, which is not truly an OpenSim grid but one following its own path, when I visit to review it for Prim Perfect. But they've already lost my recommendation to other educators. That said, I don't think that is the customer they are chasing, and if so, that's not a problem. What irked me about Linden Lab's recent move is how they courted us for a while, then effectively scorned us.

Hell hath no fury like a bald-headed freak scorned :)

For now, however, InWorldz seems a great choice for social users wanting a friendlier and more responsive provider of virtual-world services. That's a different secret sauce altogether.

Coda: Bring on That Tasty Sauce! Somebody...

Not all of us can host our own servers. My idea to do that (for next year, anyhow) got a thumbs down.

So we need a grid that permits backups. As for the UI, that's up to developers in OpenSim and walled gardens such as InWorldz, SL, and Blue Mars.

Virtual-word providers who can get this secret sauce right: for educational builders data backups and for educational newcomers an easily mastered UI, you'll get a lot of business from us that Linden Lab is now losing.

Update: See Lalo's comment. I'm hoping for OAR backups as well as IAR. Thanks to Lalo for the clarification that individual export/import works fine. It's slow and it's how I'm pulling content I made out of SL right now.

Monday, October 11, 2010

One Door Closes...Another Opens

Door & Metaphor
Location: House of Usher & Reaction Grid Sandbox

It's gratifying to have someone like John "Pathfinder" Lester pick up your blog from time to time. John noted, either in a comment here or on the SLED list, that the Imprudence Viewer does still permit exports. I'd not been able to do so the other day.

Today, starting with the very door that I first built for The House of Usher, I let poor old Iggy Strangeland, my junkie stringbean avatar in Reaction Grid, give it a go.

First, Iggy in SL selected the Usher front door:
Exporting the Door

Then he saved the source file to my hard drive under, yes, "Usher Front Door." Note that any export must be wholly owned by you and textures do not transfer but can be uploaded for free (I had made every texture on the door so they did copy).

Iggy #1 logged out and Iggy #2 logged into Reaction Grid. He teleported to Sandbox Island and chose the "Import Object" option from Imprudence's File Menu.
Importing the Door

Well, that's a door, ain't it!

I had to rescript a door-open script using my favorite Script Me! site. It's an LSL script so mileage may vary in an OpenSim grid. I put it into the door hinge and presto! Door that opens and closes.

Just the metaphor I need today. Incidentally, stability in Reaction Grid was superb. I kept Iggy Strangeland standing around while I wrote this post. He's still there.

He left a copy of the door for anyone to take. Be my guest. Just go to Sandbox Isle in Reaction Grid and help yourself. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.

Gor & The Educators: Our Best Reason To Leave Second Life

image courtesy of Nightflower's New World Notes Post

Location: Letting Door Slam Behind Me, Washing Hands, Burning Bridges, Etc.

Nightflower wrote an interesting post on why real-life women chose to roleplay Gorean Kajirae (slave girls). Her blog contains a full interview with three Gorean women.

Disclaimer: I've long felt that adults can do what they please online as long as the acts are consensual and others do not have to watch. I've long been ambivlaent to Gor; John Norman's prose is terrible and clearly a reaction to the rise of Feminism in the 1960s. He's certainly never made full professor because of his Gorean fiction, though I suppose it made him a lot of money in the 70s, when the lurid covers attracted an army of teenage boys. I stumbled through Tarnsman and Slave Girl back then. That was enough. Even for a horny teen, the prose was dreadful when Burroughs, Howard, and Lovecraft awaited.

That said, no academic administrator who barely knows SL would fail to be outraged that this content is on the same grid as a campus. One counterargument deployed holds that campuses rarely censor internet use (totalitarian schools like Regents and Liberty don't count for me).

Yet the argument ignores a basic fact: SL's adult content is different from educational sites being on the Inernet alongside sites with X-rated content (or that promote Gorean lifestyles). Unlike other vendors we use, LL hosts both. If Blackboard hosted both RP slavery and campuses, we'd leave that software provider fast.

Here's another chat about Second World...I mean Life, with an administrator:

Department Chair: Joe, come on in. I was reading "Iggy's" blog for your annual review. Sorry to hear our campus is leaving Second Life so suddenly, because you'd planned to use it next term, true?

Iggy: Yes.

Chair: That's bad, but part of me is glad.

Iggy: Why's that?

Chair: You know I've spent my entire career writing about women's issues in literature, and so much of modern feminist theory is about the backlash to what we painfully accomplished, especially since the start of the women's movement in the 1960s.

Iggy: Oh no. You found the Goreans.

Chair: Yes! I learned about Norman's books when I first was in grad school in the 70s. We laughed because it was such a pitiful attempt to subvert our progress. Norman was such a cheap hack, too, that he didn't pose much of a threat.

Iggy: Yes, his writing is horrible.

Chair: His academic writing must not have been much better. He never rose above Associate Professor. But then you have people roleplaying these relationships in a virtual world. It's disgusting that real women would do that.

Iggy: Some are fake women.

Chair (laughing): I hope their "Masters" don't find out. Well, this new virtual world we are going to use...does it have Goreans?

Iggy: No adult content at all.

Chair: Great. If the right-wing morons at our local paper got wind that we share space online with such content, the editorial pages would be a nightmare. Let me know when you have The House of Usher moved to this new provider. And I want to see that article you've drafted on immersive literature.

A few years ago, as advisor to out campus literary magazine, I and the student editor got "called on the carpet" by the folks who fund it. The current issue opened at the midpoint to a poem with X-rated language. I defended the work, but the campus official said "this was on tables at parents' weekend. If the students want to print and distribute it, okay. But if they continue to print this sort of content, they should not expect any funding from us next year. Maybe they can sell cookies to cover their costs."

Thus, readers, I bid the Goreans, their home stones, their slaves, and their "natural order of things" a fond farewell.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

A Hell of a Good Universe Next Door: If You Can Find It

Beeble Arrives
Location: Core 1 Region, Reaction Grid

My colleague Lee (Beeble Baxter in SL and now, Reaction Grid) decided to take the plunge and join me in the SLexodus. He'd given up, in frustration, in trying to download a third-party viewer because the path to a Mac OS version of Hippo Viewer (very stable in RG) is about as straightforward as the path to Nirvana. If you were Pol Pot.

Finally, we had the software downloaded. Our conversation went something like...well, no, I'm making it up but this was the spirit and the sequence of the events:

Beeble: "This is not very intuitive."

Iggy: "Remember SL in 2007? It's not hard. Breathe slowly, Beeb."

Beeble: "You are the one hyperventilating. So where is the pull-down for this grid?"

Iggy: It's...CRAP!...Reaction Grid is not on the *$%&^@ pull-down for Grid Manager!"

Beeble: "Google it."

Iggy: [Googling the completely transparent "Reactiongrid URI"] "There! Put in this arcane code, stand on one foot, say 'Iä! Iä! Yog-Sothoth f'taghn!' five times, and make those settings your default grid in Hippo."

Beeble: "Oh, yeah, this is going to get a lot of folks line up to try virtual worlds. Remember our colleague who used to put the entire text of the e-mail in the 'subject' line?"

Iggy: "I need a drink or maybe just a blow to the head."

Beeble: "Done. I'll log on."

As Lee and I struggled with setting up a third-party viewer to get him to Reaction Grid, I realized the difficulties that SL-focused educators will have when they join the SLexodus. We have habits of use that are hard to break, and, frankly, third-party viewers and logging in to a new grid look deceptively familiar.

I walked to my office as soon as Lee's newborn RG avatar rezzed. I logged on and found Jokaydia Grid.

Oh oh. How do I get back from a hypergrid hop? There were no listings for Reaction Grid's main grid at the Hypergates pages I noted last time.

Iggy: "Oh oh. I'm stranded."

Beeble: "Where can I get a furry head?"

Iggy: "I'll make you one!"

The advantage of being stuck with SL's awkward interface and many bugs is the craftiness it teaches. I was logged in with Imprudence, and luckily I recalled the "login location" setting. I had set it earlier to Reaction Grid's Core 1 region, where Beeble was getting himself some newbie clothes.

A relog had me standing beside him. We then did an inpromptu interview with Cammi, another visitor from the Inworldz Grid and SL. She's a scripter and is looking to expand her services beyond SL.
Beeble and Cammi

As many of us are. Though only three of us were present in the region, it felt suddenly a lot less lonely beyond the throngs of SL. It felt a lot like 2007, though no one was running around naked at the welcome area asking for "the sex."

So far.

e.e. cummings was right: Let's go.

Friday, October 8, 2010

My First Hypergrid Jump

Ready to teleport!
Location: Reaction Grid Main Grid & Jokaydia Grid

It is appropriate that I made my first-ever grid-to-grid jump while standing beside my favorite monment to the future. As Iggy Strangeland waited near the Trilon and Perisphere in Reaction Grid, I went to this page and, because I like the name, chose the hypergrid coordinates for “Scooter” in Jokay Wollongong’s Jokaydia Grid.

Then I clicked the teleport link and saw this familiar sight:
Hypergrid Teleport Dialog

After clicking, the teleport proceeded normally. Though he ended up in the Western District region, Iggy Strangeland, what there is of him, made the jump with every bit of inventory intact.

And this on (ahem) a day when Second Life was not permitting logins.

I don’t yet know if my inventory would transfer to a grid beyond Reaction Grid’s universe, since Jokay leases server space from the same company. But making a jump from one grid to another, even within the same server farm, is very different from jumping from one SL region to another.

At Jokay's freebie store, I pondered how to make this poor fellow look less like he's still going to the Methadone clinic regularly.
Other than Iggy's perpetually junkie look, this is thrilling stuff, and it’s the paradigm for educators who need to link in-house clusters of servers to privately hosted ones to big public grids. This is the game-changer I’ve heard about, but it meant more.

To go somewhere and not be “Ruth” provided just the antidote to end a rather dark and angry week.

Educators, onward! It's not my kind of Rock, but cue up Boston's "Gonna hitch a ride" for some added energy.
image: GM Futurama Pin, from my collection of 1939-40 World's Fair Mementos