Saturday, November 22, 2014

I Get Results with Social Media and Second Life!


 Human relationships used to be easy: you had friends, boy- or girlfriends, parents, children, and landlords. Now, thanks to social media, it's all gone sideways.

Susan Orlean

  

          My regular, faithful readers (Both of you know whom you are and I’m grateful even if you do insist on secrecy comparable to the U.S. Witness Protection Program.) may recall my earlier request for Second Life (SL) residents to use social media to keep the community alive beyond the Grid in case the Grid should ever happen to go away. 

          I went out into the world of social media.

          I started tweeting. 

          Got bumped out of Facebook.     

          Took up Google+ and went into the Avatar Social Network. 

          I got results!  (Significant Other looks shocked too.)

          Hits on my blog increased.  (I now average over 30K monthly.  Has to me more than just my two faithful readers despite what Significant Other says.)

          I’ve met people via these social media apps and with several I’ve become friends inworld.

          This story is about one of these people, Takio Minakuro. Who said shortly after we’d met inworld, “Why not a story about me?”

          Yes, Takio, why not? 

          And this is your story.

          As I said, I met Takio via Twitter.  She favored and retweeted my tweets which led to our following one another (I forget who followed whom first.).  This is in turn led to us conversing via tweets and one thing led to another and we became friends in SL.  (Takio goes by Dr. Takio inworld.) Pretty much how folks in Real Life (RL) meet via Twitter.

          Takio has been inworld since 2009 after learning about SL from friends.  She was active until 2011 when she took a break.  Takio’s self-employed in RL and works long hours.

          Then in December 2013, Takio had a skiing accident in RL which prevented her from working but did allow her more time inworld and she’s been enjoying herself there ever since.

          Her store, Tokyo Girl Avatar, which deals in shapes and skins opened this past January.  (It’s interesting how many creative types in SL got started because of enforced down time due to illness or accident.) 

In addition, Takio is actively involved with roleplaying in Japan Hospital where she roleplays as a GYN OB doctor.  She believes she is the first woman medical doctor inworld.  I don’t know about that but Takio does want to serve as a role model for young women who aspire to being medical doctors in RL. 

As if that’s not enough, Takio also has a partner and children inworld as well.  (I get tired just writing this.)  

Takio believes that both emotions and friends are important.  For her, SL is everything that she cannot have in RL as she puts it.  I think many of us have similar views.

Our interview took place in her home inworld which doubles as her medical office.  A standalone, German style house which is located in a small town.  (How do I know it’s German style?  I read and I’ve been to Germany!)

The home’s interior is spacious with a large living room, a bedroom, and two rooms for her medical practice.  The d├ęcor is Japanese and Western.  Pictures of her SL family are around the living area. 

The medical offices, which include an examination room and a patient’s room, include the latest and greatest medical devices inworld.  All of which are very expensive.  (After the last several years of listening to US politicians and media talk about healthcare costs, why am I not surprised?)

Takio is a gracious hostess and answers all my questions frankly.

My takeaway is this.

Social media, Twitter in particular, is a highly effective way to expand your circle of friends in SL.  Takio is a highly experienced and accomplished resident and, yet, she stepped out into Twitter “to find people in SL” as she puts it.

Takio is a longtime resident inworld with an active social life divided between her family and friends not to mention her profession, and she’s been using social media apps to broaden her community inworld.  Overall, she has 380+ friends in SL.  I’d say she’s been successful!

Hopefully, social media in conjunction with SL will permit the community to expand beyond the Grid and possibly outlast SL itself. 

I’d like to thank Takio for taking the time to meet with me for her very candid interview and for becoming friends with me inworld.  Her flickr page can be found here.

We both hope to meet others in SL through social media and to continue to grow our circle of friends?

Care to join us?

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, November 15, 2014

The River Thames Freezes in Second Life


 Twenty bridges from Tower to Kew -

Wanted to know what the River knew,

Twenty Bridges or twenty-two,

For they were young, and the Thames was old

And this is the tale that River told:

 
Rudyard Kipling

                                                                
 

          The year is drawing to a close.

          Thoughts (at least mine) turn to the Holidays and their traditions.

          Second Life (SL) as does Real Life (RL) has its traditions for this time of the year.

          One of these traditions is a Christmas extravaganza put on by the inimitable Perryn Peterson, the Mayor of Mieville. 

          Folks still talk about his Christkindlmarkt that he put on last year and his A Christmas Carol before that. 

          True to form, this year Perryn has gone looking for something different yet original which will entertain his guests.

          Care to guess?

          Drum roll please.  (Significant Other rolls eyes and mumbles something about laying it on a bit thick.)

          This year’s Christmas celebration is derived from the 1814 Frost Fair in London which was the last time the River Thames froze solid enough for people to not only walk across but to throw a four day party because apparently with the river frozen there wasn’t a lot else for the folks whose living depended on its waters flowing to do otherwise. 

          Appropriately, Perryn has entitled this year’s event, “The Thames River Frost Fair.”

          (I don’t know how Perry digs up these little nuggets of history, but he sure can find ‘em!)

          The freezing of the Thames came towards the end of a period known as the Little Ice Age. The 1814 occurrence is also the last time that the Thames has frozen over so completely and solidly. (Please let’s not get into any arguments over global warming, I get enough of that in RL.) 

          The Frost Fair was an occasion for celebration with food, drink, and dance.  An ox was roasted on the ice.  Pubs and other shops were set up on the ice forming what was like a small town for several days.  Even an elephant was walked across the ice to show how frozen solid it was.  (Yes, I did ask Perryn if he’d have an elephant at his.  He replied he would if he could but not to hold my breath.  I tried!)

          Apparently, Perryn shared with me there’s even a piece of gingerbread left over from the original Frost Fair somewhere in a museum in London.  (I’ll bet it’s the Victoria & Albert.  That place has everything they don’t know where else to put in England.) 

         
Perryn’s Frost Fair is very much in the spirit of the original.

          Frost Fair is Perryn’s largest festival to date both in terms of size and participants. 

          Size wise, it’s almost an entire sim.  Regarding participants, over 150 merchants will be participating which is another record for him.

          Rezzing into Frost Fair, one is immediately hit by the stark, white reality of winter.  It even feels cold.  The landing zone overlooks the Fair and it’s big!

           A large frozen area represents the frozen waters of the River Thames and is bisected by London Bridge.  (What?  Did you expect the George Washington Bridge perhaps?) At one end is small group of buildings representing London itself.

          Frost Fair is divided into three areas, two of them on ice.  The third is contained in London proper.

          One area contains shops with spots for refreshments and relaxation.  This has been sponsored by Mountain Rose.

          The second area contains additional shopping as well as the amusement area with all the rides.  (Yes, Perryn may have taken a few liberties with the anachronisms but this is SL after all!)  BTW, watch out for the polar bear wandering around here.

          The third area located on terra firma (Or as terra firma as anything can be inworld) on a low bluff overlooking the river has shops for the merchants and their offerings.  The gacha building will be located here and there is a rumor that Santa’s Workshop may be here as well.

          Wandering through the fair, I see booths, shops, and barges (frozen in place) arranged for all the merchants.  When it opens, the Fair is going to be a very busy place!  As usual, Perryn has attracted the best merchants and the finest merchandise to be seen in one place inworld.  Definitely the place to go for Holiday gifts for your loved ones and friends.  (Or, just treat yourself if no one else does!)

         
Besides shopping there will be a full range of activities during Frost Fair.  Storytellers will be scheduled, and dances and parties will be held.  Check in regularly to see what’s going to be happening.  An Advent calendar will also be available in the town area dispensing a different gift for each day. 

Frost Fair will run from November 28th to December 28th and can be found here.

          This promises to be a fun event in the spirit of holiday festivals in SL.

          I’ll be around and hope to meet you there!

          Additional Frost Fair pictures may be found here.

          Happy Holidays!

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Festivals in Second Life


 Life is a festival only to the wise.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

                                                                  

          Recently, I realized that there are a lot of festivals in Second Life (SL). 

          Given all the fictional and homegrown festivals that also always seem to be going on inworld there are probably more here than in Real Life (RL)!  (Significant Other indicates that we have enough festivals as it is already.  Boundaries must be respected.)

          Yes, there are the big three, Christmas, Halloween, and Valentine’s Day.
Interestingly, these are supposedly the same big three in RL at least in the Western traditions.

          These festivals are celebrated across SL in a variety of ways.

          Some sims do themselves over for the holiday.  Some exit merely for the holiday and then, poof, are gone until next year.  If they even come back at all.

          Residents get into the spirit of things as much as folks seem to in RL.  (Although, I think the Christmas decorations on homes are even more over the top inworld than in some American developments which is saying a lot.  I wonder if the SL neighbors complain as much too?)

          But, then there are the other festivals which may be a little smaller or restricted to a specific geographic area but are still fun events to attend.

          Recent examples have St. Patrick’s Day, Mardi Gras, and Cinco de Mayo.  (Coincidentally, these are all Perryn Peterson productions!)

          I’m sure there’re more, I just haven’t found them yet.  (Or, Perryn hasn’t celebrated them yet!)

          Other festivals that I’ve come across have been the Chinese Lunar New Year, Day of the Dead, and V-E Day.  All were fun events.

          Dropping by all these festivals got me thinking about what really comprises a festival in SL.

          Festivals seem to fall into three major categories.

          First are those based on RL holidays like Christmas.  (I’m beginning to realize that
there is a religious aspect to these as well but more on that in future stories.)  Others are derived from RL fiction like A Christmas Carol from Charles Dickens’ story.  Finally, others seem to spring from the life and culture of SL itself. Hunts like the Renaissance Hunt & Faire fall into this category.

          Then there’s the commitment behind these.

          These festivals just don’t happen.  Planning and preparation are involved.  Then there’s the promotion of the event.

          Last but not least, people have to come to the festivals.  (Trust me, having thrown more than one party in RL where I was the only attendee this is no fun at all.  Significant Other really amped up my social life!)       

          And they do!

          Once again, I find myself coming back to the sense of community in SL which keeps everybody together and keeps bringing them back. 

          The festivals are just an excuse, albeit a very good one, for people to come together and have a good time.  The interpersonal relationships are the glue that hold SL together.  It’s certainly not Linden Lab’s customer service!

         
As we approach the traditional yearend festivities inworld, I’ll be visiting my usual favorites.

          But, I’d also like to break out of my comfort zone and visit new ones.

          So, please if you’re arranging or know of festivals that are taking place in SL, let me know.  I’ll visit them and post about them.  (Significant Other arches an eyebrow.)

          Hope to meet you there!

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Taking Stock in Second Life


 

When life gives you a hundred reasons to cry, show life that you have a thousand reasons to smile.

Anonymous

                                                                

 

          The recent events in my Real Life (RL) have caused me to pause for a moment and think.  (Normally, this is where Significant Other’s eyes roll or an excuse is found to beat a hasty retreat somewhere, anywhere.  Today, because Significant Other has been a major part of what’s been happening, not to mention a source of strength and comfort for me, I see support and affirmation.)

          I thought about my loss.

          I thought about all who have helped me in both RL and Second Life (SL).  (All of you who reached out via various media when I missed a blog post and stopped tweeting for a while, you’ll never know how much that meant to me.)         

          Previously, I’ve blogged about how quiet SL was.  How there seemed to be less going on. 

          But, but after writing that, I began to notice that while maybe at the galactic level, SL wasn’t as bombastic as it once was that at the personal level (i.e., avatar to avatar) there was always a lot going on. 

          Whenever, I logged on friends were around.  They reached out.

          If they weren’t around then they left messages.

          Sometimes, friends just disappeared with no warning.  Their loss is felt and I can only hope that RL offered them new challenges and opportunities and they’ve just moved on with their lives.

         
Combined with the outpouring of prayers, condolences, and well wishes that I’ve recently received made me realize just how noisy in the very best sense of the word that SL really is.

          All the other things that have been happening around and about SL are really pretty irrelevant. 

          Should we care about SL 2.0? 

          Does Ebbe Altberg really matter in the grand scheme of things? 

          Is it important if RL media is suddenly surprised that SL still exists at all?            For me the answer is a resounding “No!”

          SL is a very complicated place and it’s complicated because it’s about people.

          SL happens at a very personal and intimate (That’s not what I mean!) level.  Individuals communicating with one another and with their communities.

          People share thoughts, feelings, and fears inworld. 

          Yes, there is the veil of anonymity for many of us but that doesn’t make it any less personal.

          Are our SL friends any less real to us than our RL ones?

          Once again, the answer is a resounding “No!”

          After all these years of being inworld and blogging about it, I’m just now realizing that the community there is SL is more than just scripts, prims, and sims. 

          It’s all about the wonderful people who make it up and log in every so often to make it the wonderful place that it is!

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Back from the Wilderness! (Part V) – I Return to Second Life


 

Overheard at a gravesite: "And they all said ’I’m sorry for your loss,’ as if you were someone who could ever be taken from me."

Robert Brault

                                                                

 

          I’ve been way from Second Life (SL) for a while.

          There are reasons.  Yes, reasons and not excuses.

          First, Significant Other and I went away for a few days (Yes, this was in Real Life (RL) and not some cybertrip, I have some standards.) and the usual available WiFi wasn’t available.

          OK, things happen and as I’ve posted before in the Back from the Wilderness stories I invariably bounce back and somehow manage to post a story.

Then, as Significant Other and I were preparing to return home, I received word that a very close loved one had passed away unexpectedly.

As I guess as many of you know, a time like this can be a stressful and confusing one in a family. Hence, I left SL and the Metaverse for some time.

I did reach out to several friends at various times to let them know why I wasn’t inworld.

I received messages from other friends wondering why I wasn’t about or posting.

From all I received their prayers, thoughts, and condolences.

I’m slowly coming back now.  Beginning with my blog and following with social media.

Significant Other and I thank all for their prayers, thoughts, and condolences.

I’d also like to thank everyone for their patience as I put RL and SL back together again.  And, to those who kept reading my stories and retweeting my tweets!

I’ve blogged about loss before but when it comes at us in RL it’s hard to accept but I know that I must and go on.

Those in SL were as supportive and sympathetic as my RL family and friends.  I guess this shows that we’re not really all that different regardless of the mediums we use.

I look forward to reconnecting with all my friends in both worlds over the next several weeks.

Thanks again!

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Art Imitates Art in Second Life


 

Not all those who wander are lost.

J.R.R. Tolkien

                                                                

 

          Recently, I was having a conversation via Skype with a good friend of mine from Second Life (SL), Augusta von Nassau. 
Speaking with Augusta von Nassau in 1920's Berlin.

          We were Skyping because I’m no longer welcome on Facebook. 

          I gave vent to my frustration, and that of other Facebook refugees, with Augusta (Significant Other is happy that someone else gets to listen to me for a change.) about having to use multiple social media applications and not being able to have the experience that I had had with Facebook.

Augusta, in her infinite wisdom and patient manner, suggested that I write about my experience.  (I suspect that this also got me off her hands.) 

          She was right!

          I had my epiphany and am now blogging about my feelings.  (Please don’t blame Augusta for this story.  This is all me.  Significant Other bolts for the next room.)

          Here’s where I’m coming from.

          Inworld, I’m normally who I am.  An explorer and writer who wanders across the Grid blogging about his various misadventures.

          I don’t have a role playing backstory for my avi with one exception.

       
Working Class District in 1920's Berlin.
  
When I visit 1920’s Berlin, I have a backstory.  And, of course, being me, it can’t be simple.  (What fun would that be?)

          In 1920’s Berlin, I play a political exile from the Bolshevik Revolution.  I’m a Menshevik who’s on the run from the CHEKA.  Once, I was on friendly terms with Ilyich but political disagreements and a few too many chess games won by me sent me to the West.

          I have no home and wander about living on the streets testing the good nature of my friends with my continually quoting Marx.  A certain young librarian allows me to hang out in her library as long as I quit whistling The Internationale.  (She’s also promised to add a section for the collected works of Marx for services rendered on my part.  I think I’ll wait until the spring before I start reminding her.  1920’s Berlin is a hard city to be homeless in when Frau Jo turns on the snow.) 

Why this character and not some comfortable bourgeois character?

That wouldn’t be me.

The wandering writer is more my style.  (Significant Other’s, who has now returned, eyes roll.)

It was a part.  A role.  I didn’t give it any thought.  (Significant Other asks, “What’s new there?”)

Then I left Facebook.  (Or, not to put too fine a point on it, Facebook left me.)

Here’s where I began to complain to Augusta.

Whereas with Facebook, I had one tool which connected to a large group of friends, let me know who was on, and permitted me to chat with them easily. 

Now, I have multiple applications each with its own subset of my friends. 

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve met some great new people and a few old friends have followed me into exile.  But, everyone is scattered.

On the Avatar Social Network, I’ve made new friends but still only part of what I once
had access to.  Google+ has great functionality but I still don’t know who’s on.

I Skype with Augusta and go somewhere else to chat with others.

I’ve begun to experiment with Ello. 

Facebook friends reach out to me and ask me where I’ve gone to.  They commiserate but can’t leave Facebook because of their own social investment there.  They’re also reluctant to load up on additional social media applications.

I feel like my role playing avatar. 

I wander aimlessly looking for friends.  Never knowing where I’ll be or whom I’ll end up with.

Is this what it’s like for the homeless in Real Life (RL)?

Has the vagaries of a tool like Facebook shown me what some people experience in RL at least on a social level?

Please don’t get me wrong and don’t feel sorry for me.

That’s not what I’m writing this piece.    

          I have family and friends in RL.  (Significant Other gives a warm hug right now.)

I have a roof over my head.

Yet, somehow, this virtual world has made me think about others who don’t have it as fortunate as me. 

My inworld wanderings have also made me suspicious for some time that there are some in SL who may be comfortable in RL but are among us because they are looking for something on a social level.

I just wanted to get these thoughts off my chest and share them with my readers.

Has anyone else experienced this?

Eventually, I’ll sort this out.

Thanks to the efforts of the LGBT community, maybe someday folks like me could return to Facebook.

Let’s see what happens!

As always, I’m grateful to all inworld for their kindness and time in stopping to talk with a stranger who was passing through their lives.         

My Twitter handle is @webspelunker.  Please feel free to follow me and I’d be happy to follow you.

I can be found on Google+ as webspelunker Ghostraven.

My flickr Photostream is located here.

On Skype I’m webspelunker Ghostraven.

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at webspelunker@gmail.com . 

          If you would like to read about my other adventures in Second Life
please click here.

          Open roads and kind fires!