Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Looking Backward: Awkward Island

Looking Backward: Orientation ...
Flashback madness continues! Lesson learned way back then: be fearless. I'd fare much better today, but even on Orientation Island, I feared "not doing something right." At least I had a sense that a coherent culture did exist in Second Life's irreal spaces. I chose the image above both for its insight into the native culture as well as hint that Linden Lab used to have a sense of humor.

March 10, 2007 6:02 PM

Location: Wooded valley, Orientation Island

I tried to have my first conversation with another person and I failed, miserably.

Once Ignatius had his appearance more or less correct, I walked away from the central plaza on Orientation Island, flew into the air like Superman (a favored way to travel “in-world”) and landed in a well designed forest.  A much later snapshot (I didn’t know how to take them when this happened) gives some idea of what the landscape looks like.

After crossing a small stream on stepping-stones, Iggy sat in the shade of the trees and thought about the utter strangeness of the virtual world.  Soon enough, a female avatar walked by. I waved, shouting “hey,” using a pre-programmed animation from a set that all avatars possess.  She walked over.

Once you get close enough to another avatar, you can type short messages.  I began to type, and Iggy’s fingers obediently made little typing motions in mid-air.

Being no stranger to MOOs and MUDs, the text-only virtual worlds long popular in academia, I figured that I would have no trouble at all.  My style is right: articulate with just enough shortcuts to keep the typing swift (lol for “laughing out loud,” btw for “by the way,” and so on).

Here is what I typed; I will never forget: “I am utterly new to this. What about you? Can you tell me anything?”

Reply: “???” followed by the other avatar swiftly walking away.

Jean Baudrillard, where are you?  He’s the French philosopher who predicted that we prefer simulations to reality.  Wait. Baudrillard just died.

I wonder if I can get a virtual T-shirt that reads “Dork. Utterly”. . .

Iggy's Note: My "Looking Backward" posts are aggregated here, if you want to see the fool I made of myself in 2007.

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