Tuesday, July 24, 2007

How Real is Virtual?

Last night, I was compelled to put PJs on my avatar and to try out my new bed. In real life, I was getting ready for bed. In SL, I was also in bed. I even found a camisole and a pair of Rolling Stones boxer shorts in my inventory - something I might wear in real life if I owned them.

For some reason, this was comforting to me, like the right thing to do.

I recently had someone ask me if, when they log out of SL, their avatar just hangs immobile somewhere on an island, taking up space. I have to admit, I wondered about that myself when I first logged in. I would sometimes see avatars with (Away) by their names, and this, I thought, was proof that when we log out, we are still there.

Eventually, I figured out that (Away) meant that the person was away or inactive but still logged in. Now I'm fairly comfortable believing that my avatar just goes "poof" when I log out. But last night, I just thought my avatar was going to be lying in bed throughout the night.

This morning, when I logged in, she was still in PJs, standing up next to the bed. That seemed so...normal.


Today I met a nice "woman." I say woman because of the avatar - blonde, buxom, wearing an electric blue dress with a plunging neckline and lots of bling sparkling. Her name was decidedly female as well - Esmarelda. As we chatted, I asked where she was from. Korea, was the response. I suddenly thought how odd/interesting it was that an Asian woman (or man) would select a lithe stacked blonde to represent her/himself.

It also made me wonder about diversity in Second Life.

Then I had an impromptu meeting with the moderator of a panel I'm speaking on at BlogHer 07 in SL. Her name was East Indian, and when she appeared from a teleport I sent, her avatar's skin was dark. Which got me thinking more about identity and race in virtual worlds. She is one of the few dark-skinned people I've seen inworld so far.

The only other I know is one of my girlfriend's in real life who is a blonde and married to a black guy. Her avatar is very blonde and very dark-skinned, nothing at all like her real world self.

When I first set up my avatar, I created a computerized version of me - average to slender build, average height, long dark hair, brown eyes, pretty but not stunningly beautiful, casually dressed in a long sleeved t-shirt and jeans. Over time, I've morphed my look into what I'd like to wear if I had a lot of money with the kind of hair I'd have if I could. I change my outfits and hair color at will. Different clothes, different hair, but I still think it is me no matter how I look.

Is it me? I mean, is it my avatar... don't I?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Inworld Today

Today I did a number of things inworld. Let's see...

I wrote two articles for SLNN.com - one about Cofidis bicycile races in Second Life and the other about the MIPCOM Mobile & Internet TV Awards. Tried out the free bike racing gear and attempted to race a bike on Cofidis Island. That was a trip!

Had a nice conversation with another reporter from SLNN.com who is based in Norway. We hung out at various locales around Elysian Isle including the cafe and the beach. That was very enjoyable.

Bought more shoes at Shiny Things. I'm convinced that you cannot have enough shoes in both RL and SL. Can't wait to pair them up with some new outfits.

Yesterday was a great day, too. Bought a beautiful bed in a custom color and two gorgeous Japanese screens from a designer - AnneMarie McCellan - who helped me fix up my apartment above the dress shop on Elysian Isle. More about her soon.

Now I'm planning a housewarming party for my new apartment. Update on the party soon.

Tomorrow, I'll be on Elysian Isle at the Cafe from 1pm - 3pm SLT (PST). I'll post a SLURL later.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Second Life Update

So I've decided to use this blog to document my Second Life experiences as well as linking to news and information I find online about Second Life.

I started out in my first weeks on SL thinking that I would become a tour guide for newbies interested in finding fun places and especially interested in buying things. Always looking for an entrepreneurial angle to everything I do.

The reality was, however, that newbies didn't have money to pay me for the tours. So I've resorted to gifting newbies with enough Lindens to buy their first clothes or hair and leading them to my favorite shopping spots. I guess this is a Pay It Forward kind of thing that is fun for me to do.

When I first arrived on SL and wanted to take a snapshot of my avatar, I asked for some technical assistance from Annabelle, a savvy resident.

"You don't want to take a photo right now," she exclaimed.

"Why not?" I asked.

"Because you don't look very good," she told me. "No offense, but you look like a newbie." Then she offered to take me shopping and gave me enough money to buy a great outfit and told me how to get new hair as well.

I still remember the exchange fondly and hope to give others that same warm welcome and guidance in SL. Not that I'm an incredible pro at this yet, however, I've already mastered the art of creating fashionable ensembles out of a mix of freebies and purchased items and grouping them in folders in my inventory so all I have to is drop a folder on my avatar for an instant head-to-toe style change.