Saturday, April 18, 2015

More Thoughts about Whom We Are in Second Life


 

Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.

Albert Einstein

 

 

          After several years of exploring and blogging about Second Life (SL) I’ve been to many new places, met many new friends, and had many new experiences.  (If you read my earlier stories then you’ll get all the details!)

          All this activity constantly brings me back to the question of whom we are in SL and is it that different at all from Real Life (RL)? 

          Earlier stories went into identity and questioned whom we were inworld.  

          I’m still not satisfied with my answers so far and I’m returning to this topic once more with this story.  (Significant Other’s eyes roll.)

          My dissatisfaction may arise from the nature of itself.  (Significant Other eyes are really rolling now,)

          While I’m in the camp that SL is an extension of RL, some look on it as a mere game. 

          For some, SL is all about role play (RP).  Whether historical, fantasy, or something else altogether, they’re here for a reenactment of a community with rules of some sort.

          Others are here for a truer RL experience.  This can be religious or helping others such as Relay for Life among others.    

          Then I encounter the question of where do we all fit in with this.

          Are we here for fun and pleasure?

          Are we looking for a technical challenge?

          Are we here to be of service to others?

          With me so far?

          Finally, I come to the ultimate question about SL.

          Does any of this really matter?

          Is a purpose really necessary to be inworld?  (I’ve lost Significant Other at this point.  Who has exited complaining of eye strain.) 

          Can we be here for multiple reasons?

          Is it selfish to come inworld only to play and hang out?

          I don’t have any good answers presently.

          I do know that like RL, SL is diverse.

          We’re all here inworld for our own purposes of this I’m certain.  Anyone who enters SL more than once has a purpose.

          Then there’s for me the inescapable fact that we all need one another inworld regardless of whatever reasons we have for being here.

          I apologize for leaving more questions than answers with this story.

          But, I truly believe that as virtual communities develop and evolve these questions will become more and more important. 

          I’ll return to this topic in the future.  (This may not be for a while, I have to convince Significant Other to come back into the room.)  

          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!

                                             

Friday, April 10, 2015

No Go for SL Go in Second Life


 The greater cantle of the world is lost

With very ignorance, we have kissed away

Kingdoms and provinces.

Shakespeare

 

           Sometimes it takes me a while to get around to things and because of that I miss an opportunity. (Significant Other nods in agreement.)

          Like I’d blogged a while back about the new mobile app, SL Go, which permitted Second Life (SL) users to interact inworld as they went about Real Life (RL), and I had been critical about its initial launch.

          Subsequently, a few of my beefs were corrected and folks spoke well of the tool.

          I planned to do a follow-up since there was now a decent free trial period.

          Well, things changed.

          Sony recently announced its acquisition of certain patents and intellectual properties of OnLive, the online gaming service that owns SL Go and as a consequence the app will be shut down on April 30,, 2015.

          Guess I won’t be writing that story any time soon now!

          Hard to believe that it was just over a year ago that SL Go was first announced.

          So, what happened?

          Why is Sony buying some parts of OnLive and not others?

          Does this give us a hint into the future of SL itself?    

          OnLive’s sale of selected assets is probably just part of the normal buying and selling of products and services by larger global companies in the mistaken belief that somewhere along the line “Synergy will create added value!”  (Yes, I know, I must sound terribly cynical.  If you had the wounds that I have from these deals, you’d be cynical too!)

          But, there is that nagging question, why not SL Go too?

          Let’s think about this for a moment. (Significant Other starts to worry.)

          Sony is a fairly astute corporate player.  (Notwithstanding it’s recent email problems.)  They know how to handicap the winners from the losers.

          Could this decision to not purchase SL Go now be a sign of some doubt on their part about the long term viability of SL?

          Or, are they worried about SL 2.0?

          Linden Lab’s new and improved version of SL that they don’t anyone too much about except for “Trust us!”  (Yes, yes, I know!  I’ve already admitted to being cynical,)

          Does the sudden demise of SL Go mean the clock is ticking for SL?

          How come no one ever tells the residents of SL anything until it’s in the news?

          As I’ve blogged before, the Lindens remind me of the ancient Greek gods.

          Legendary, remote on Mount Olympus, interfering in the affairs of humankind as it suited their whims, and nobody ever met one! 

          Let’s see what the rest of the year brings! 

          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, April 4, 2015

Life and Death in Second Life


 Life is but a dream for the dead.

Gerard Way
 

          Recently, I came across an interesting and thought provoking article by another blogger, Canary Beck. 

          (Yes, I do read other bloggers!  The question is how many of them return the favor!)

          The article was titled What if our avatars aged (and died!) in Second Life? and discusses the pros and cons of avatars aging in Second Life (SL).

          At about the same time as I read this article, I ran into Bec Kellstrom, my unofficial  
spiritual advisor inworld.  (This may be news to Bec and should in no way reflect poorly on her.  Like many in her calling, she has a penchant for lost causes.)

          Bec had read the same article and this led to a far ranging discussion about life and death in SL and the relationship with Real Life (RL).  (Significant Other groans and leaves.  Significant Other doesn’t like this topic.)

          The question that arose for me from Canary’s article and my conversation with Bec (No blame should attach to either of them here.) is what’s our ultimate end in SL?

          In other words, where do our virtual existences lead inworld given that our RL ones are finite.  (Now, you can understand why Significant Other left.)

          Let’s start with aging.

          If our avatars were to age along with our RL selves what end would it be to?

          Would our virtual selves become more like our RL selves?

          Would we act our age (Does not sound as strange to you reading this as it does to me writing it?) or become some sort of senile delinquents? 

          One thing’s for sure, aging would be a real crimp in the sex industry inworld. 

          (But, then I did run across virtual Viagra™ in an earlier story.) 

Why would we want to age inworld?

Added realism?  Perhaps.

Because we could?  Possibly.  (There’s one in every crowd.)

Would I do it?

No.

My reasons are primarily ease and I don’t want my SL existence to be about my avatar.

I’m an observer of life inworld and I don’t want my avatar to be a distraction.

(OK, and yes, as Significant Other would say if here, I’m probably too lazy to stay up with all the changes required to age properly.)

Besides, I’m close enough to my RL self.  Except for the blond hair, red eyes, and a few other details…

Let’s move along to death. 

In RL, death has a certain finality about it.

None of us knows for sure what lies beyond the curtain.

Maybe there is life after death.  Maybe there’s not.

Or, maybe reincarnation does exist.

(For the record, I happen to believe in life after death.  I have no logical argument for this that I can offer.  Personally, I’m more worried about being locked out of both levels.  But, that’s my problem.)

In SL, on the other hand is it final?  Does it have to be?

          When we lose someone inworld, many times we never know why. 

          Has the person just grown tired of a virtual existence, has RL reasserted its rightful place, or has the person actually passed on in RL?

          Sometimes, we know.

          There may be inworld memorial services and gravesites that can be visited. 

 
         I recently came across three such gravestones at Beau Belle Village memorializing members who never came back to SL because they had passed away in RL.

          Can we have reincarnation in SL?

          If we change avatars and never go back to our former selves isn’t this a form of reincarnation?

          What if another RL person takes over someone else’s avatar because they’ve died in RL or left for some other reason?

          (Starting to get heavy here, eh?  I don’t go to nudist sims all the time!)

          Which brings me to when death intersects both RL and SL.

          What should one do?

          Just disappear?  Leaving friends to always wonder why in the false hope that we’ll return?

          Let someone else take our avatar over a la Dread Pirate Roberts and we go on as long as there’s a virtual world to hang out in?

          Or, do we just stop being in SL just like we must do in RL someday.  (If anyone has figured out how to avoid the final day of reckoning, please let me know because I can make us a lot of money!)

          Me?

          (Not that I’m planning on going anywhere soon!)

          My SL existence will end with my RL one.

          Is it vanity?

          I don’t know.  

          All I know is that I’m here for a certain length of time and that should be good enough for both RL and SL.  (Besides, let’s be honest, could anyone else ever replace my inimitable wit and charm?)

          I’ve made my inworld arrangements.  (Significant Other’s not too crazy about this.)

          So, if someday you get an invite to see me off then please come and remember my stories with everyone else!

          (I repeat.  Everything is fine and I plan on being around longer than SL!)

          I’d like to thank Bec for taking the time to have these heavy philosophical discussions with me and Canary for writing an awesome blog!

          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, March 28, 2015

Hearing a Storyteller’s Story in Second Life


No, no! The adventures first, explanations take such a dreadful time.

Lewis Carroll

 

          What I enjoy about wandering about in Second Life (SL) is how these meanderings so often lead me to topics for my stories. 

          The people, places, and experiences encountered inworld give me opportunities to share with my readers (Both of you.) the virtual world that exists alongside Real Life (RL).

          People who have managed to bridge the gap between SL and RL especially interest me because of my long held belief that virtual worlds need only be another neighborhood in our real lives if we approach it wisely.  (Significant Other looks doubtful here.)

          This story is about one such person.

          Someone who uses SL to enhance not only her own RL but for all those who admire and follow her work.

          A chance meeting led me to meet that someone, Ashley Carter, not all that long ago
inworld.

          Like many of my initial meetings with SL friends, I learned a little about her, exchanged some pleasantries, and we went our separate ways promising to meet up again sometime.

          As many of my inworld friends have learned about me, I tend to go down a road and not come back.  (Significant Other mumbles something about it’s not just in SL.)

          So, whenever I run into someone by chance again, it’s always a happy time for me to catch up.  (I won’t speak for the person whom I’m catching up with.  As long as they don’t run away screaming I guess it’s alright.)

          And, this is what happened with Ashley.

          I met her again by chance and we chatted for a bit. 

          However, unlike our first meeting, I knew more about her this time.  (I’m one of those who do read SL profiles and follow links to blogs, websites, flickr and such.)

          I had learned that Ashley was an accomplished artist and storyteller inworld and took her work into RL.  I was intrigued.

          This time I was able to talk with Ashley about her work and her life inworld.  I asked for an interview which she readily agreed too.

         
This story is based on that interview which took place inworld at her home and studio.

          Let me tell you the story of Ashley Carter and VOIDAR….    

          A good story always begins at the beginning.  (At least I think so.  If you don’t agree then go write your own story!) 

          Ashley first joined SL a little over three years ago, although she claims it doesn't seem like it.  She’d first heard about SL on the local news in RL from a story about a couple who had met through here.  That wasn't what she was after, but it still piqued her interest that there was this social online world where one could interact with people and create. 

When asked why she stayed, Ashley replied she thinks because it came down to the people she had the good fortune of meeting, Ashley feels that she’s met some really good friends inworld.

I next ask Ashley how would she describe who she is and what she does inworld.

Ashley laughs and replies that it's hard to describe herself in one word, but first and foremost she enjoys photography which is her number one passion in SL.  Still laughing, she describes herself as curious, friendly but sometimes a little anti-social. Ashley likes being in her own company, it's where she feel most comfortable.  But, on the opposite hand, she adds, SL has given her more confidence when meeting new people and that's helped her in RL too.

         
          Our interview turns to Ashley’s work and her major opus, VOIDAR.

          VOIDAR stands for “Voyage Of Immense Danger and Reward.”  (That was easy wasn’t it?)

          As described on its website, “VOIDAR is an ongoing sci-fi / adventure series constructed from Linden Lab’s online virtual world: Second Life. The high octane story is told through a mixture of pictures and animated videos; and it follows a group of misfit voyagers, who do what they can to prevent a war on a universal scale from breaking out!” 

          George Lucas watch out!

          VOIDAR is Ashley’s first major project in SL.  She dismisses her early work as trivial.

          I ask Ashley where VOIDAR came from. 

Ashley chuckles explaining that VOIDAR is an original idea from a deep corner of her mind. She’s always been interested in photography, and the next step she wanted to take was tell a story. 

When asked if she’s a writer too, Ashley replies that, yes, in a loose sense.  But, she lets the photos tell the story. Going forward she plans to include some flavor text to go with each picture, and let audiences get to know this world a bit more.

I next ask Ashley what led her to do this project.  It's a big commitment of her time and effort.

Ashley agrees excitedly that it is a big commitment.  The idea first came to her in late 2013, and officially debuted at the beginning of 2014. She’s a big fan of movies and graphic novels and that influenced her in starting this project.

In her first year Ashley wasn't creating nearly as much content as she does now.

          My next query is whether Ashley would describe VOIDAR as a graphic novel and herself as a graphic novelist.

Ashley describes VOIDAR as being a pictorial series.  Stylistically it does take a lot of influence from graphic novels, superhero and adventure films.  First and foremost, she’d just describe herself as being a photographer who wants to tell a story, that hopefully others can enjoy as much as she does creating it.

          I ask Ashley what drives her.      

Ashley replies that when she originally started, she saw VOIDAR as nothing more than a simple hobby. These days she feels like it's a part of her life. Ashley has become so invested with these characters and the story that have been in her mind. She guesses being able to create this story and share it with the world is what drives her. The response to it has been more than she had anticipated.  That support from fans is also what keeps her going.

          Spoken like a true storyteller!

          My next query is about her goals in SL.

Ashley replies to avoid stress, focus on having fun along the way in whatever she chooses to do.  (I should adopt these myself.)

I ask about the challenges that she faces as a creative woman inworld.

From a creative stand point, it’s hard to say, Ashley replies. Those who do ask about what she does seem generally interested and have offered compliments and support. She thinks the number one challenge is making sure she gives time to those around her and not isolate herself from everyone.

Ashley thinks that she should reach out more to people, if it’s just for a chat or if she'd like them to get involved in her idea.  She just knows whatever obstacles come her way, she'll find a way to overcome them.  

Ashley will never stop doing what she loves most.

I ask Ashley whether she has plans in the Metaverse beyond SL.

Ashley replies that SL feels like home to her, so she can't see myself trying out a new virtual world anytime soon. But she do have big plans for VOIDAR going forward

Expanding on this, Ashley explains that she has already joined different social media platforms, and set up an official website. One of my main goals this year is to establish VOIDAR and what it's about.  Plant its virtual flag so to speak, she adds.  Outside still pictures, she wants to have another go at creating short animated clips set in the VOIDAR universe, and if time permits find ways to branch out into different storylines

Ambitious goals indeed!

My final query is what does Ashley consider to be her proudest accomplishment to date in SL.

I can’t say that I’m surprised when she replies that the obvious answer would be VOIDAR, but besides that she says that she’s proud of how she’s changed as a person. SL has allowed her to interact with all kinds of people and it's just opened her eyes on what's out there. Ashley thinks that she’s become more patient and sincere towards people because of her inworld experiences.

          After the conclusion of our interview, I thank Ashley for her time and candor in her answers and take my leave.

          I’m very impressed with both Ashley and her work.

          I haven’t encountered many inworld who admit to changing for the better in RL because of their SL experiences.

          Ashley’s work is rich in imagery and characters. 

          Her approach reminds me of the old fashioned cliff hangers that cinemas used to use to bring patrons back every week.

          Ashley’s work can be found on her website and on flickr.  She can also be found on Tumblr.  Her Twitter handle is @VoidarOfficial.

          I encourage everyone to see it and give their comments to Ashley!

          I know that she’ll appreciate them.

          I’d like to thank Ashley again for taking the time to meet with me and to share her story and feelings with all of 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, March 21, 2015

Helping Others in Second Life III


The Future Is Now!

Relay for Life

 

          Spring has finally arrived!

          (Despite winter’s last gasp with a final snowstorm here in the Northeast.)

          This is also the time that Relay for Life (RFL) begins its annual drive in Second Life
(SL) on behalf of the American Cancer Society. 

          I made an appeal last year for residents to come out and help as best they can and I’m doing it again this year.

          I don’t do this because I neither have anything else to blog about nor just want to feel like a nice guy for doing something decent (although I do hope it’s viewed that way.)

          I do this because cancer is a horrible disease which robs our friends and families of their lives and their happiness.

          I do this because there is a need and any effort no matter how seemingly small or insignificant contributes to the total battle against cancer.

          I do this in memory of all our loved ones whom we’ve lost and who serve as constant reminders as to why we who still live in Real Life (RL) must continue the fight.

          Some may find this preachy and offputting. (Significant Other doesn’t think so.  We’ve both lost loved ones to cancer.)

          Fine, they’re right!  (Hey, it’s my blog after all!)

          Once in a while, I use my soapbox to make my readers uncomfortable and make them think about the world around us.  The real world not the virtual one we sometimes visit.

          Unlike SL, RL can’t always be rosy and cheerful. 

          Damaged RL lives can’t be fixed with a new makeover or another alt.

          In the nearly five years that I’ve been wandering around SL, I’ve learned a lot about its communities and the people who comprise them.

          Yes, many come together inworld to enjoy themselves and have a good time.

          But, many, I do mean many, also take time away from the fun ‘n frolic and help others such


as by contributing to RFL in one form or another.

          That’s why I’m here today.

          To ask you to help in any way that you can.

          This can be financial.

          This can be time spent helping the teams that are organizing events inworld.

          This can be coming out and participating in events to show your support and to encourage others.

          This can be spreading the message to your friends and groups so that as many residents as possible are of RFL.

          Last year, almost 3,000 residents raised $415,000 US for cancer research.

          Will you help us break that goal?

          The official RFL season begins with kickoff events in March and runs until August.  Other special events occur throughout the year.

          An events calendar and a special events listing are available on the Relay for Life of Second Life website.

           The website also contains information on how to participate, press releases, and progress reports.  It’s a great resource for people interested in helping out and for locating events to attend.

          In SL, the American Cancer Society sim can be found here along with information
about current events inworld.

          I hope I’ve convinced some of you to contribute and/or participate!

          This is when communities come together and really show what they can do!

          Hope to see you during RFL! 

          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!