[extropy-chat] META (Was Re: LA Times: My Avatar)

Lee Corbin lcorbin at rawbw.com
Sat Mar 10 14:19:19 UTC 2007

I thank PJ (and others) who cut & paste at least the introductory
paragraphs of links they provide.

I bail quickly when I see only links these days, unless there is
something *really* compelling.

Life is short, thanks,  (though in this particular instance, I already
knew about 2nd life).


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "pjmanney" <pj at pj-manney.com>

> You be the judge.
> PJ
> http://www.latimes.com/features/magazine/west/la-tm-neil09mar04,1,1455894.story?coll=la-headlines-west
> 800 WORDS
> My Avatar
> Dan Neil
> Great. Another world where I can't afford beachside real estate. Welcome to Second Life, the hugely hyped online social-networking 
> cosmos/geekapalooza where players have unlimited freedom to shape the virtual world around them, and redesign themselves at will. 
> They—that is, the animated versions of themselves, their "avatars"—can buy and sell real estate, start their own businesses, 
> create art, discuss literature, go to movies and concerts. Second Life is a separate graphical reality, a "metaverse" limited only 
> by the imagination.
> All of which sounds quite promising—Plato's Republic at the speed of broadband—except that this brave new world of human potential 
> is 98% stupid, overrun with sex clubs, discos, casinos, yard sales, tragic architecture and more shopping malls than the San 
> Fernando Valley. More Sin City than SimCity. Far from being the real world perfected, Second Life comes off as a zoo of its 
> players' collective debaucheries. And it mocks all attempts to take it seriously. For example, when a volunteer for the John 
> Edwards campaign set up an office in SL, he failed to notice the adult goods emporium next door. Is this what happens when you 
> wiki reality?
> A little background: Second Life is the creation of Linden Lab in San Francisco, which opened up the website four years ago. 
> Players—about a million logged on last month, many of them not drunk—pursue their happiness on about 139 square miles spread over 
> three continents and thousands of tiny islands. The SL world has a sky, a horizon, a night and day. Times passes. Like a typical 
> console game—for instance, Grand Theft Auto—SL is a 3-D world in which objects and surroundings move in relation to the player. 
> You see other players and they, in their avatar-centric view, see you. The environment is rendered in rough, low-resolution 
> digital textures, for now. In 10 years, SL will likely have the silky verisimilitude of Hollywood CGI.
> Joining SL is free, but to own property you have to pay a $9.95 monthly fee plus land-use costs proportional to your acreage (yes, 
> even if you are from Orange County). Got your eye on that little parcel on the coast of the Southern Continent? The coin of the 
> realm is Linden dollars, which you can buy from the almighty Linden Godhead with your credit card, at a rate of about 270 Linden 
> dollars per $1.
> Residents are free to build whatever they want on their land: ski resort, dungeon, big-box mall. To fly the skies of SL—did I 
> mention your avatar can fly?—is to appreciate the wisdom of zoning regulations. It's like Monopoly on mescaline.
> Sound weird? Believe me, it is. Whatever its potential might be (the future of telecommuting?), SL is mostly a fantastically 
> elaborate chat room where players go to dance, hang out on nude beaches and otherwise live their fantasy lives. There are almost 
> no fat or unattractive avatars wandering around SL. Most of the females are large-breasted hotties, most of the men have torsos 
> like Roman cuirasses.
> I can't even begin to hint at the polymorphous perversity available in Second Life, but the most popular place, at the moment I 
> check, is Naughty Neva's Free Sex Orgy Room, where virtual sex workers pole-dance and lure customers into back rooms.
> Surprisingly, the Real World wants in in the worst way. In February, Sweden became the first country to open an embassy in Second 
> Life. And Toyota debuted its new Scion models, aimed at Generation D, in an SL press event. The month before, the Sundance Film 
> Festival held a screening of the documentary "Strange Culture" in SL. At about the same time, Arianna Huffington and other 
> participants at the World Economic Forum in Davos participated in an SL event intoning the possibilities of the new virtual 
> frontier. In short, all the cool kids are playing it. To keep up with these doings, Reuters and other news organizations have 
> opened their own virtual SL bureaus. Whatever.
> In my week in Second Life, I had the usual newbie problems, some funny, some not. After I went ice-skating, I couldn't turn off 
> the ice-skating animation, so my avatar performed involuntary triple salchows and double axels everywhere he went for the next day 
> or so. Perhaps not coincidentally, I was later propositioned by a gay avatar, behind whom, I discovered, was a 55-year-old father 
> of four on the down low. But mostly I just walked through this world with my virtual mouth hanging open. It's staggering, really, 
> to ponder all the work and creativity poured into SL by what are, actually, its consumers. This kind of mass volunteerism is the 
> power behind what author Don Tapscott calls "wikinomics," collaboration on an astronomical scale, a la Wikipedia. My question is a 
> simple one: Is Second Life the best use of collective genius when the material world is so unfinished?
> If you had the drive and the imagination—not to mention the absurd amount of free time—to create a business or design a product, 
> why wouldn't you do it in real space? If you could find friends and brainstorm good ideas and fuel a love affair, why wouldn't you 
> do it in the here and now? Come back from Second Life, people. First Life needs you.
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