Sunday, February 26, 2012

Occupy Second Life

The greatest revolution of our generation is the discovery that human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives

William James

Last night didn’t start well for me in Second Life (SL).  First, I’d decided to visit a site that I’d read about in two other blogs.  Sounded good and I expected to have some fun, learn something, and meet new residents.  These are my usual criteria for visiting a sim and having a story that my readers will like.  (At least, I hope that they will!)

Well, things didn’t go very well from the start for me.  I’m not giving the name of the sim because I couldn’t stay long enough to really get a feel for the place and meet anyone.  There’s also a cautionary tale here for anyone promoting an event inworld and any shopkeepers who may be paying fees to participate in such.  I would also like to point out to Linden Lab (LL) that inworld performance sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. 

First, upon rezzing in, I’m greeted by a note card asking that all unnecessary prims be removed from my avatar.  Hah! I thought.  They obviously don’t know what a low overhead character that I am.  Apparently, all sorts of bells and alarms will go off if someone tries to enter in all their sartorial elegance. Experiencing nothing more than a mere blink in the surrounding lighting, I smugly stride in. 

So far, so good. But, as I begin to enter shops and move further into the sim, I feel like I’m moving through molasses.  Lag strikes.  (Or more accurately, slowly brings everything to a halt.)  Then my SL Viewer (SLV) begins to hang.  Repeatedly.  I get bounced out.  I go back in.  Repeatedly.  (I’m always willing to take one for my readers.) 

I’m starting to get frustrated.  No, I am frustrated.  I’m beginning to realize what’s going on.  This event has been over promoted.  Logging into SL, I can see that the number of visitors is around thirty.  The excess prim warning should have alerted me.  There were many shops with merchandise and the streets were decorated in a type of urban punk.  This could have been a good experience but it wasn’t.  Someone should have been thinking about LL’s system constraints. 

I feel bad for the promoters and other participants because a lot of work and effort went into this prim.  Unfortunately, many people will not get to enjoy it.  I will try to go back before the sim closes to give a report.  I’m just not sure if my schedule will permit that.

My night continued to spiral out of control as in trying to get back to my SL home, I was bounced somewhere else.  I arrived in what looked like an airport lounge in a small, Midwest town.  (Trust me, I’ve been there.) 

Other residents are dropping in – literally.  Everyone is asking why they’re there and why can’t they leave.  I’m stuck too.  It’s like being in Penn Station in NYC when everything goes wrong with Amtrak and the LIRR simultaneously.  (Again, trust me, I’ve been there.)  

Never one to miss an opportunity, I try to engage my fellow travelers in conversation.  Which doesn’t go very well for me.  I start with something like “Hello” or “How are you doing?” and I’m still waiting for replies.  (Maybe it’s my looks?)

By now, I’m getting desperate.  I’m in SL Purgatory and I don’t have a story for this week’s blog.  The free drinks offered at the bar aren’t helping. 

Then I get a break. 

Scanning my friends on line list, I see that any1 gynoid is inworld. Not having spoken with her since prior to my hardware problems, I was glad to chat and catch up.  I was elated when I asked me to TP out of Purgatory to where she was and she agreed.  (any1, I owe you big time!)

I rezz into Madeleine’s in Angels Cove, a blues and jazz bar, where some very good music is playing and any1 is dancing with her friend ZenBeatz. 

any1 and I had been talking prior to my technical problems about using SL for community organizing to help residents who are dealing with Real Life (RL) issues arising from the global economic situation and political inequalities.  (More on this in future blogs.)  any1 is an inworld activist and an active participant in the Occupy Second Life (OSL) movement.    

any1 introduces me to Zen telling that Zen is one of the leading organizers of OSL in addition to being an activist in RL.  Zen and I have a lot to talk about with regard to the use of SL for community organizing in SL and we agree to meet later in the evening for an interview. 

We meet later at Osho Meditation Island.  This is a quiet place overlooking the sea well suited for an interview.  The interview is conducted in talk instead of my usual IM at Zen’s request. 

In RL, Zen is a RL activist who focuses on sustainability and forest preservation.  She started with OSL in February 2011 as a corollary to the RL Occupy Wall Street movement.  Self sufficiency, creative community, and creating systems that work are her interests. 

When money seemed to take over the world in the Eighties, Zen turned her back on it and began working on reforestation in RL.  After a personal loss in RL, Zen was looking to start afresh somewhere.  Her location away from major RL population centers led her to SL after a friend, inworld himself, had suggested she go back.  (Zen had been inworld before but hadn’t been very active.)  She wanted to create a virtual equivalent of RL.  A place where people could be taught what to do and then carry that forward to become self sufficient. 

Her goal in SL is to unite the avatars.  Once afraid of what computers might do to the workforce (i.e., ATM’s eliminating bank teller jobs), Zen now sees the Internet as permitting us to cross boundaries.  These are now thinner in cyberspace than they are in RL.  (For example, Zen is on the other side of the world while we conduct our interview, back in the day, the phone costs would have been prohibitive. Let alone, our being able to find one another in the first place.) She finds the Internet, and SL in particular, as a valuable tool to reconnect. 

Zen expresses concern over censorship and security for personal information on the Internet.  She believes that there is much media blackout over key issues like education and the corruption in legal systems to name but a few.

With help from any1 and other SL activists, Zen put on the twenty-four hour December 17th Occupy Earth event in SL to raise funds in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement.  The event was a music and arts festival that succeeded in raising $400US which went for the gloves for the Wall Street Occupiers. 

Zen is now in the early stages of planning another OSL event for March 17th which would mark the six month anniversary of the movement.  She’s hoping that this event will go across other virtual worlds in the Metaverse but it’s too soon to tell.  Music will be part of the program as Zen believes contemporary music is important to bringing in participants.  She’s right, most major social movements in RL history have had significant cultural components. 

Help is needed and Zen would be grateful if anyone interested in assisting her would drop her a note card inworld with their contact information.  Or, please pass her request along to those who may be able to help her.  I’ll be writing more about this upcoming event over the next several weeks. 

I take my leave of Zen and express my thanks for giving me so much of her time for a completely unscheduled interview.  I look forward to working with her and any1 as we develop a community organizing program to help those residents struggling with RL issues.  SL is a platform that I feel has been struggling lately for a reason to be.  We propose to bring that sense of purpose back. 

I also want to thank any1 again for saving me from a fate worse than death (at least in SL).

Finally, I continue to apologize to those whom I still may have appeared to have simply fallen off the grid.  I’m working my way back through my open commitments, albeit slowly.  I hope I haven’t caused any inconvenience and I look forward to seeing everyone again very soon!  As always, I’m open to any and all ideas for places to visit and people to meet. 

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

I welcome feedback from readers, please either comment on my blog or e-mail me at

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

Photo No. 1: Osho Meditation Island

Photo No. 2: Madeleine’s

Photo No. 3: any1 Gynoid

Photo No. 4: ZenBeatz

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