Sapiosexual

I think maybe I owe an apology – not to anybody in particular, but maybe to the virtual world in general. It’s an apology for over-simplifying certain aspects of virtual life, and lumping a whole range of behaviours and pursuits together under the umbrella term ‘peculiar’.

Let’s talk about SLex.

I’ve always maintained that the whole process of jumping on a poseball and getting jiggy in a bout of pixel porno is decidedly weird when you consider the mechanics of it, and even when such cartoon capery is taking place between two people who’ve established a deep and fulfilling relationship with each other, it can’t possibly compare to some of the alternatives available, such as picking up the phone, getting up close and personal over Skype or Facetime, or even – although I accept it’s not always possible, meeting up and doing the deed for real.

But, I’ve recently come to the astonishing conclusion that by holding this view, I may have been doing a disservice to the virtual community, and it’s even possible that I’ve misunderstood and missed entirely, a fundamental tenet that underpins this whole murky hinterland of SL.

That isn’t to say that there aren’t a whole bunch of people who manage to get their rocks off by watching avatarian nookie and talking dirty; of course there are, and it’s still something that baffles me, especially when there’s a great big interweb out there, not to mention real life, where a far more realistic version of that sort of thing is available, should you care to look for it. Even taking into account what I’m about to discuss, I really don’t see the attraction of computerised bonking… But, each to their own: YKINMK!

That’s where I think I was intellectually sidetracked, thinking that is all there is to SLex, but I’m starting to realise that it actually goes far deeper than that. They do say that the biggest sexual organ is the brain, and that – in the context of SL – is a game changer. Certainly, I would argue that there can be a certain amount of titillation to be found in watching pixels doing their thing, but bring the incredible power of imagination, emotion and creativity into play and any visual stimulus pales into insignificance beside it, even to the point where the visuals may even become completely superfluous and unnecessary.

In the real world, in my own experience, there is often a correlation between exercising mental acuity and emotional intelligence, abd the ability to experience satisfaction, contentment, and enlightenment in that particular aspect of one’s life. And I may be wrong, but within the circle of people that I know who happen to have an interest in the more esoteric of these pursuits and lifestyles, there seems to be a much higher proportion of high achievers, professionals and academics than what we might traditionally associate in our minds with sexual proclivity. Doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and so on seem to me to far outnumber the ‘flasher mac’ and grunt and groan, dirty old man brigade in the D/s, rope, fetish and BDSM communities, and I don’t think that’s mere coincidence. These are people who in other aspects of their lives are generally very adept at creative and abstract thinking, problem solving, and managing their emotions – people who are capable of expressing themselves in situations and circumstances that many might feel uncomfortable and struggle to relate to, and it must follow that they can apply that same talent and capability to the naughtier side of life.

It is precisely this particular type of mind that can also relate well, and is attracted to, the virtual environment. A state of mind that relishes the challenges that arise from the virtual world, and it’s no wonder that at least some part of that thinking is gainfully employed in bringing certain alternative lifestyles inworld. And SL is fertile ground indeed for exploring that side of human experience. I find people who embrace this perspective fascinating to get to know – almost invariably they are incredibly intelligent, open-minded, and have a story to tell… A story that is often still evolving and changing dynamically as they write new chapters upon its pages. They tend to have a very real sense of self and their place in the world – something that I happen to think is a real asset in a virtual world. The other benefit of possessing this kind of intelligent outlook is that your capacity to extemporise in any given situation can only serve to enhance your inworld experience – and if that experience happens to be bumping your bones, or engaging in a bit of slap, tickle and tie-up, then what happens to be unfolding on the screen in front of you is really only ancillary to the main action, the bulk of which is happening in the minds of the participants, demonstrated throughthe methods they employ to express what they are thinking.

Having come to this realisation – culled from RL experience, and from frank and honest discussion with friends inworld – I’m starting to gain an appreciation that SLex, on this more involved and cerebral basis is a very different beast to my previous ‘just jump on a poseball and nip off to brew a cuppa while your avatar gets on with the business’ assumptions, and that for those who really apply themselves to the task at hand, it is an emotional and highly evocative moment. Those who do indeed know what they are doing can develop, in a simple IM exchange, an all-encompassing and enthralling scenario in words alone… Nobody needs to get naked, there’s no clever equipment and scripting involved; it’s all down to the mind and the imagination.

Nobody can deny that sex is a big thing in SL, but like so many things inworld, it can be done badly, but then again, I’m starting to think that it could also be almost sublime – but, if it is going to be the latter, then it’s something you really do have to work at, otherwise it really is just pixels… Which is fine if that happens to work for you.

But, if it ever came down to it… I know that I’d want you for your mind, not your body!

s. x

Tell me now, baby, is he good to you?
And can he do to you the things that I do? Oh no
I can take you higher
Oh oh oh, I’m on fire
Bruce Springsteen – I’m On Fire

 

 

Posted in Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL | Leave a comment

And you think tier is high?

I’ve been hearing about Decentraland for some time now, and for the most part, I haven’t really taken much notice developments, however recently I came across a mainstream video news article featuring this new virtual world, and it made for interesting watching: Decentraland – BBC.

What particularly struck me is that there’s very little here that is new or novel. According to the platform itself, it is ‘A virtual world that runs on open standards. Decentraland is a virtual reality platform powered by the Ethereum blockchain. Users can create, experience, and monetize content and applications.’ Take away the bit about blockchain and you have a fairly accurate description of SL, particularly SL during its first 10 years or so of existence. Add the bit about blockchain back in, and you pretty much have a fairly accurate description of Philip Rosedale’s post-SL venture, High Fidelity. Indeed, if you take a closer look at both Decentraland and HF, they look, feel and behave very much the same, and – with the obvious exception of VR and blockchain – you could also well be looking at SL during its early years.

In terms of aesthetics, accessibility and quality, I’d happily argue that SL in it’s current incarnation is actually far superior to either of these fledgling virtual worlds, and I’d go further, to say it’s superior to pretty much any other similar platform out there, unless you want to apply some very specific criteria to what you happen to be looking for in a virtual world.

Where Decentraland does appear to be different however, is in the amount of traction it seems to have gained at such an early stage of development, despite the relative infancy of the technologies – blockchain and VR – upon which it is dependant, and the general lack of interest that VR has succeeded in generating to date. I find it quite remarkable that people are investing significant sums – in the tens of thousands of dollars – into virtual real estate on a platform that is still in the very early stages of development, and I’m baffled as to what it is about Decentraland that appeals to investors that can persuade them to offload massive amounts of hard cash into a 10×10 metre parcel, which in virtual terms, is absolutely tiny. Compare that with what you can get in SL, even at top whack, and it seems a poor deal. I can’t help wondering whether the criminal fraternity has discovered a whole new way to launder dodgy money… That’s one of the few explanations that makes any real sense to me!

In SL you have an established market economy, a decent concurrency in logins, a thriving community and 15 years of experience, knowledge and lessons learned about what makes a virtual world tick. No other platform can offer that killer combination: Certainly some virtual worlds are older and have stable economies and user bases, but none has anything that comes close to SL: Yet Decentraland – the new kid on the virtual block – is succeeding in doing what SL, and it’s successors that operate on a plane comparable to it – Sansar and High Fidelity – at doing what these platforms have tried and, to date, failed entirely to do successfully… Develop a large user base, willing to invest heavily, within a short period after startup.

It can be argued that HF and Sansar are still Beta, but even so, the numbers logging in are pitiful. We could also say that the model employed by Decentraland is very different to SL, since virtual holdings are not held on company-owned servers – much like Minecraft or HF – but I can’t see that being a dealbreaker. There is clearly something else particularly appealing that is missing from the existing plaforms.

Maybe it’s the completely unmoderated nature of Decentraland – you can do whatever you want and no-one is going to tell you how to use your plot? Well, perhaps… That, of course, is no different to the glory days of SL, which to be fair is a state that hasn’t changed all that much even today. We may have moved some aspects of virtual life into specific areas of the Grid to aid in moderation of the ‘seedier’ sides of SL, but the level of control that LL exercise is fairly minimal. I don’t know how much that might add to the appeal of a new virtual world, but it’s almost guaranteed that no matter how much autonomy users may be given, inworld controls and moderation will almost certainly be developed by the community itself, and the Wild West frontier environment won’t endure for ever. That aside, I really can’t draw any plausible conclusions.

Perhaps all these people joining up and pouring money into Decentraland have tapped into a wider common awareness that this may indeed actually be the formative years of VR and that anybody who is in at the beginning will be able to make a killing if they sit tight and wait for the bubble to expand. Personally, I’m not convinced that’s how things will pan out… But, who knows for sure? My feeling is that these new platforms will either achieve a modicum of success, but nothing spectacular, or eventually fold, whilst the dinosaur that is SL will prove – once again – capable of enduring time and change and will continue, stable and secure, for many more years to come.

And, if I had any money, that’s where I’d be investing mine!

s. x

Hey, we don’t need no one
To tell us what’s right or wrong
This is a modern world
This is the modern world
The Jam – This Is The Modern World

 

 

 

Posted in HiFi, Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, SL | Leave a comment

You’d be home by now

Have you ever seen one of those signs at the side of the road, usually situated on a new housing development, subtly appealing to the commuter stuck in a traffic queue for the fifth time that week… “If you lived here, you’d be home by now”? And, have you ever been in the position where you actually do live there, but it’s still going to be a while before you can actually walk through the front door, sling your bag and shoes on the floor, and shuffle into your slippers whilst you wait for the kettle boil, thanks to the perverse nature of Geography and city planning?

It’s a frustrating scenario I find myself encountering every time I take the train home travelling from the West – which is pretty frequently. As the train trundles through the outskirts of town, I gaze out of the window, where five minutes walk away, my house awaits my return. In the winter, when the trees are bare and don’t obscure the view, I can even see it from the train. The train, that irritatingly and infuriatingly, continues on past for another quarter mile as the crow flies, to the station, which translates as a nearly 2 mile walk up a steep, soul destroying hill – which incidentally has a lovely view of the point at which I was earlier looking out of the train window – back home. A case of, ‘if I lived here I’d still have a 30 minute trek to be home by now’!

Which, rather tenuously and tortuously, leads me to the recent revelation that the Labbies are starting work on development of an IOS/Android client. I have to admit that this has caught me somewhat by surprise, although it was apparently mentioned by Ebbe Linden at his SL15B interview, which I did listen to, but somehow managed to miss this rather important nugget. I must confess to losing interest when the interview degenerated to gormless waffle towards the end, even to discussion of football games, or maybe it was cricket, or some other pointless game played with balls and over-inflated egos… But I digress. SL is certainly a bit behind the times when it comes to this particular platform, despite the rather remarkable capabilities of the third party Lumiya Viewer and the success of Bright Canopy a couple of years back.

I do find myself questioning just how well a mobile client for SL will fare however. I can’t help but think there’s a huge element of ‘you could be home by now’ syndrome that many would struggle to get over: There’s only so much you can do on a 7″ or smaller screen whilst being jostled on the bus, or crammed in to a seat on a busy train, using public WiFi hotspots; and whilst I know that any number of games have successfully made a transition to mobile, I question whether SL would manage quite so well. I doubt that building, scavenger hunts, shopping, exploring and the 101 other activities that we get up to inworld, when at home, would be quite so easy on a phone or tablet on the move, and just as I find myself wishing the train would make an impromptu stop, just so I could nip home to my creature comforts rather than continue with the annoying slog, I can imagine users wishing they were inworld on their home systems, rather than fiddling around on a touchscreen.

Then again, I could be wrong. I can only speak from my own experience using Lumiya, which I thought would be the answer to all my woes when working away from home, allowing me to enjoy the delights of SL from any hotel room. The reality has turned out to be rather different, and I now only log in on Android if there’s something I really need to do, such as pay the rent. It’s just too much an unsatisfactory substitute for the all-singing and dancing SL that I’m used to that no matter how much I might try and convince myself that I’m ‘already home’, the reality is that I’m not, and all the benefits that home brings are still some distance away from where I’m sat right now.

It’s not that I’m against mobile platforms – the majority of my blog posts, including this one, are composed on the go, often on more than one device, but when it comes to adding images, links, formatting text, proofing and all the little finishing touches, those have to wait until I’m home and have full access to a proper keyboard and mouse, monitor, decent bandwidth and – ideally – a hot cup of tea. It’s possible for me to do all those other things whilst on the move, but it can be a real pain in the butt and takes far, far longer and is far more annoying than doing it at home.

So, much as I wish the Lab luck with their new venture, I wonder whether it’s more a case of keeping up with the neighbours and doing what’s expected, rather than coming up with anything that is really of any great practical use.

Or maybe I just enjoy my home comforts!

s. x

And someone is playing a game
In the house that I grew up in
The Killers – Smile Like You Mean It

Posted in Linden Love, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL, Techietalk | 2 Comments

Old Haunts

Hmmm… Halloween again; is it really a year since the last one?

And wow! Half a year since I last added anything to Alt. life: – I’m slipping. Worse still, I usually do some sort of extended multi-part story to recognise the fact another Halloween has arrived. Oh dearie me… Struck out there as well.

I guess I should do something though. So – killing two bats with one stone, so to speak – I’ll be revisiting these old haunts that have somehow eluded me for months and I’ll give you a half-hearted attempt at something that’s terrifyingly horrible, if only because it could be true! Even if it’s a little shorter than my usual offering.

We may not have much time, anyway…

Alt.life: Fat man.

s. x

Team by team, reporters baffled, trumped, tethered, cropped
Look at that low plane, fine, then
Uh oh, overflow, population, common group
But it’ll do, save yourself, serve yourself
The Suicide Machines – It’s The End Of The World As We Know It

Posted in Alt. life:, RL, Unlikely stories | Leave a comment

Gargoyles

Spending the amount of time that I do travelling by rail around the country means that a lot of that time is spent gazing out of windows at the scenery passing by, both countryside and architecture. As you pass fleetingly through towns and cities you can’t help but notice the contrast between modern buildings, and those from another era.

The same is evident as you walk around our towns and cities: There was a time when craftsmen and masons would build with stone, along classic lines, with an eye for aesthetics, rather than pure utility. Then, sometime after the close of the 1950s, architecture went down a whole different path, discovering the joy of concrete, steel and plate glass; function over form was the order of the day and buildings took shape at the hands of civil engineers and construction crews. Today, of course, we hang our heads in shame at the crude brutality of buildings of the sixties and seventies and fill our cities with ever more bizarre constructions that are every bit as ugly as their predecessors, just in a different way.

Today, from the train, I spotted a beautiful and unique building – the water tower in Southall – and it reminded me that we still have a wealth of great architecture, despite the best efforts of city planners. However, my positivity was soon quenched, just moments down the line as I spotted a modern urban monstrosity which looked not so much that it had been designed as thrown together. Whoever had been responsible for this abysmal carbuncle clearly had a fascination for wire mesh fence panels, which had been ‘artistically’ carved into odd shaped pieces and hung at weird angles over the front of the building… It looked a bit like someone had magnetised the frontage and then thrown random bits of fencing at it.

It seems today that for a building to pass muster, it needs to have jutty-out bits, freaky roofing, bizarre cladding and look as if it had been cobbled together in Scrapheap Challenge. The trouble is, even if we put our minds to it, I doubt we possess any more the skills and ability to sculpt and create anything that you could consider to be beautiful, pleasing to the eye or anything as imposing and splendid as some of the great buildings that still remain as a legacy of past generations.

Sadly, it’s difficult for most of us to replicate that stylistic form in SL too. The inworld building tools are perfect for constructing the kind of modern day edifices that would make a millennial architect cream their pants, all magically suspended dangly bits, ugly protruberences and angles, and vast expanses of concrete, plastic and pierced steel sheeting, but not so good at making the organic, flowing and intricate constructions that typify earlier architecture. That’s not to say it can’t be done, but it’s difficult, takes time and experimentation, and tends to be costly in terms of land impact.

One possible alternative – sculpts – is now frowned upon as being a drain on viewer resources, which only leaves us with mesh, which is not a learning curve that many would choose to go down and those who have are by far and away more interested in making clothing than the inworld construction industry.

So, the result is we’re stuck with ugly buildings in SL, but then again we always have been. Much of the prim work we see in SL has barely advanced from the clunky, blocky, Lego brick style that you’ll see in some of the earliest builds on the Grid, such as Governor Linden’s House. In terms of style, much of SL looks like it read the rule book, then threw it away and did the opposite, and wherever you go inworld, you’re guaranteed to find some truly ghastly builds.

That’s not to say there aren’t a wealth of truly gorgeous builds that can be found, but to be honest, pretty though they might be, I don’t think that they’re really representative of SL: Most of us are, after all amateurs, and unconstrained by the laws of physics, reality, or planning consent, we have no need to conform to anybodys concepts of realism, acceptability or beauty; and, in a virtual world, created by its residents, that’s perfectly OK.

In the real world, designed and built by professionals however, I think we could do a lot better!

s. x

All the majesty of a city landscape
All the soaring days of our lives
All the concrete dreams in my mind’s eye
All the joy I see through these architect’s eyes
David Bowie – Thru These Architect’s Eyes

Posted in Builder's bum, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Undercover

A recurring assertion that has frequently been levelled at me over the years – and sometimes only half jokingly – is that I’m secretly a Linden. I’m not entirely sure what leads people to this conclusion, but the number of times I’ve been accused of being a Lab employee under cover makes me wonder what it is about me that leads people to this conclusion. Perhaps it’s that I don’t despise the Labbies with the same degree of vehemence that so many others seem to? Maybe it’s because I always seem to be one of the first to know about forthcoming changes to SL and can be relied upon for inside information that invariably turns out to be correct? Or could it simply be wishful thinking on the part of others? I’m not sure, but perhaps the time has come to set the record straight, once and for all?

So, let me make it clear, to avoid any doubt whatsoever, that I can neither confirm, nor deny, that I may or may not secretly be a Linden.

There, now that’s sorted, perhaps we can move on?

SL has a weird ability to blur the lines between reality and the imagination, as a consequence of which, we can be led into making the strangest of assumptions and characterisations of those around us in the virtual world often with little or no rational basis to base them upon. If I take my own circle of friends and acquaintances, I can readily come up with numerous examples of what could accurately be described as character assassinations, with no real justification in support.

One friend, for example, is the epitome of kindness, care and friendliness in real life, but invariably if I bring her into a conversation I’ll find myself demonising her as a power mad despot, who will take out a contract on you without a second thought if you should slight her, and makes Don Corleone look like Patch Adams, in comparison!

Another friend is a model of decorum and innocence in the real world, yet I’ll happily tell you that she spends her free time hosting swingers’ parties, and running her own sex chat line. If she happens to be missing from SL at any time, it’ll be because she’s out dogging in the local car park!

There’s the country bumpkin who spends his time driving around on his tractor, or lying in a ditch in a drunken stupor, (although at least one of those may actually be true!); then there’s the Borg-like consciousness who assimilates everyone she encounters into her evil clutches, bending them to her will, and crushing their individuality as they succumb to the hive mind….

And I’m sure that none of these characteristics bear any real resemblence to the actuality, and none of these people really deserve the bad press I’ve given them. Although, it is a whole lot of fun!

That’s a key point – most of these people probably wouldn’t mind this romanticised picture of their lives behind the computer screen, and indeed, many of them are perfectly aware of the nonsense I peddle about them and are happy to play along, because it is fun, nobody really takes it seriously, and often the imagined is better than the reality – or, at least, a lot more interesting than our everyday, mundane, lives. I know that I’m not the only one who creates these fantasy versions of people I know; the ongoing Seren Linden saga is testament to that, but I’m not entirely sure why we might do it.

I don’t think it’s a symptom of our brains filling in the blanks, as I’ve talked about before, where we compensate for lack of information about the real lives of those people we know inworld – if anything, it’s often the opposite. I find that it tends to be the people I know well, and about whose real lives I have at least some information, who end up subject to my wild imaginings. So maybe it’s just gentle ribbing of the sort that good friends can get away with, precisely because they are good friends. There’s no malice intended, no mockery involved. In many ways, it’s the virtual world equivalent of giving somebody a humorous nickname.

Wouldn’t it be funny though, if those made up identities turned out to be true?

s. x

Rebel inside
She’s always in disguise
Destined to kill
What she thought was real
Vanilla Ninja – Undercover Girl

Posted in Linden Love, RL, SL | 3 Comments

Intruder alert!

Hi. Is that technical support? I have a problem with my monitor. Yes, it’s working just fine, but there is a bit of an issue with it. Well, there’s a smudge on the screen. No, it’s clean – no fingerprints, marks or anything else like that – the smudge is behind the front of the screen, not on the surface. It’s small and grey, like a shadow; barely noticeable really, until you know its there.

Dead pixels? Yes, I’m well aware that even the best monitors have a couple, but I know this definitely isn’t a dead pixel. How do I know for sure? Because it moves around the screen! It certainly isn’t impossible – I’m watching it right now! No… I haven’t been drinking! Yes, as I said before, it’s definitely behind the glass… Oh, and it’s got a definite shape to it. Well, if anything, I’d say its shaped like a tiny fruit fly!

Yes folks – not that I’d ever go to the lengths of contacting tech support over such a thing – my monitor has, quite bizarrely and unexpectedly, acquired a resident fly, sandwiched between the front glass and whatever you call the surface that lurks behind it. It’s no big deal at the moment, provided it doesn’t decide to die there leaving its little fruit fly carcass forever sat in the middle of my screen; or worse, he’s just the advance scout for a marauding infestation of the things hell bent on world domination of my monitor! It’s not a scenario that I ever thought I’d have to contemplate, which just goes to show that no matter how secure something is made, someone, or something will always manage to break in. As Dr Malcom would say, “life, uh, finds a way”.

Security is big business and never more so than today – its hard to believe that there was ever a time before data security was foremost in our minds and when people didn’t particularly worry about being hacked, compromised or held ransom by unscrupulous online racketeers, but those days are long gone. The same is true of our physical world – my parents can recall a time when people would leave their front doors open without fear of intruders… All  sadly, in the past now.

It’s no wonder that we can often be at pains to protect our inworld lives from intrusion too, but I do wonder sometimes, if some of the efforts that we make are somewhat redundant in the context of what we accept SL to be. There are  of course, a number of commonsense measures that we should take to protect ourselves from unwanted and malicious attempts to get inside our private lives by way of the virtual world. It’s only wise to separate real and virtual identities, that stands to reason, as does being careful about what we share with others about our real lives, but as for the virtual aspects of who we are, just how important – and practical – is it for us to secure our virtual assets against intrusion?

In practical terms, I think there are two elements to this: Privacy and security. Security, I would say is mostly covered by what I’ve already mentioned, whilst privacy can be a difficult thing to achieve in SL, particularly since so many of the measures we can take inworld to protect our privacy are easily subverted. You can hide your presence from friends – I have an aquaintance who frequently logs into SL in stealth mode, and then starts a conversation without making themself known… I’m not sure why they do it, aside from wanting privacy on their terms, but it can be very annoying, and I think it’s quite rude, so I have no reservation about ignoring them when I choose to. We can also create private areas up in the sky or underground, but even blocking those outside from looking in is a bit pointless, since the radar gives away your presence and the ‘hide’ setting isn’t entirely foolproof. Similarly, ban lines and security systems can be fairly easily beaten, and when all a passer-by has to do is cam over, they’re not terribly effective anyway.

However, I have to wonder what the point of inworld privacy is anyway. Since the security aspect of our goods and chattels is taken care of by the permissions system and land tools, it’s an easy matter to stop people walking off with our stuff, or fly-tipping in our back yard; the real issue though is personal privacy.

Most of us don’t particularly want any Thomas, Richard or Harold wandering in on us when we’re getting changed, neither do we relish the thought of strangers (or even friends), testing out our poseballs and furniture whilst we’re not around, and there are times when we’d just like a bit of peace and quiet, which can be difficult if there’s a busload of tourists poking around our personal space. Then again, SL is – in many ways – a social network, and I suppose we have to occasionally put up with the inconvenience that it can bring, which is not to say that we all shouldn’t subscribe to at least the bare minimum of polite behaviours. Personally, I’ve not above having a nose at things that lie behind closed doors, but decorum and respect for the privacy of others will always come first.

I just have to hope that other people would treat me the same too… Although, there’s always mute, eject, ban, derender and report – which, at the end of the day, really does give those who want privacy the last word!

s. x

I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
And I have no privacy.
Woh, I always feel like somebody’s watching me.
Tell me is it just a dream?
Rockwell – Somebody’s Watching Me

Posted in Philosophicalisticality, RL, SL, Techietalk | Leave a comment

/me blinks. Rubs eyes. Shrugs…

I’ve occasionally had cause to wonder whether having spent time around and in SL can encourage your to be more tolerant and accepting in the real world? If I’m honest, I think it’s probably unlikely that it does, and that the way in which you relate to the world and people around you is based far more upon your temperament and attitudes than any amount of learned behaviour acquired inworld could be attributed to.

Being exposed to a miscellany of cultures, beliefs and diverse experiences in the virtual world – despite what we might logically surmise – does not necessarily teach us to have a broader real world view, in the same way that learning to deal with the frustrations and irritations present in SL does not necessarily mean we become more patient and laid back in real life. Maybe it does help a bit though, at least in terms of giving us relatable experiences and the occasional pointer in the right direction, and I sometimes think that what SL does do quite successfully is inoculate is against some of the more ‘off the wall’ moments that we come across in RL.

Earlier this week, I was sat on the train, pulling out of Leominster station on a rainy afternoon. As I gazed through the window, my attention was drawn to a gentleman, stood on the platform, dressed in shorts, t-shirt, pork pie hat and – rather incongruously – a bright and colourful lei. Now, this being Leominster railway station on a wet July afternoon, I was hard pushed to come up with a rational explanation for such attire, neither could I satisfy my curiosity by contriving a satisfactory connection between Hawaii and Leominster, or for that matter pork pie hats. So I did what I so often find myself doing inworld when faced with the odd, peculiar, and downright out of place: I metaphorically shrugged, put it to the back of my mind, and moved on.

It was the realisation of what I’d just done that made me stop and think. Seren ‘enquiring minds need to know’ Haven seems to be becoming somewhat immune to the peculiarities of life and the world around us. This is worrying, especially since – now I come to think about it – it might well be the case in the virtual world too. It seems I’m losing that sense of bafflement and bemusement when I see the weird and inexplicable around me, and rather than questioning, wondering, investigating and pondering what it’s all about, I’m starting to just accept things without further enquiry, mentally shrugging them off, and moving on, none the wiser and remaining completely uninformed.

Yet I’m the one who always needs to know more; I’m the one with the mind of an eternal three year old, always wanting to know why; I’m the one who takes things apart, just so I can see how they work; I’m the one who loves to learn, discover and explore: But I appear to be losing that enquiring disposition… Which I find a little worrying.

It feels to me a bit like a bird, waddling around, that’s somehow forgotten that it is capable of flight – the wings and the fathers are perfectly functional, the capability is there, but for some reason it’s become easier to walk than to make the effort of flapping. And, even though there are plenty of flightless birds that do just as well as their aeronautical cousins, it seems to me that they lack the defining factor of what it means to be a bird. It’s like a photographer that never takes pictures, an artist who never puts brush to canvas, or a musician who never picks up their instrument – everything is there, except the will to do it.

Am I becoming disenamoured with SL, or more worryingly, unconcerned with anything that I see around me; failing to question, investigate or even wonder about the world passing by, even when presented with the unusual or bizarre? Have I become so jaded that life in all its variety no longer manages to raise even an enquiring eyebrow? Pepy’s famously observed that when you’re tired of London, you’re tired of life… But, what if you skip the ‘London’ qualification altogether and are still tired of life?

There was a time when I’d suggest that’s exactly the point that SL comes into its own, but when even that crazy, mad, bonkers alternative reality doesn’t grab your attention, then I’m at a bit of a loss to know what will.

Any ideas?

s. x

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality
Open your eyes
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody

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Out of credit

Am I the only person baffled by the strange continuity links that TV companies seem to think are essential to keep viewing audiences amused these days? Not owning a TV myself, I’m not sure how long this has been a thing, but a thing it is, and it makes no sense to me at all.

Perhaps I show explain what I’m waffling on about… It’s this weird practice of splitting the screen the moment the end titles start to roll, whilst a schedule of upcoming programmes appears on one side, overdubbed with some increasingly weird sounding continuity announcer repeating what is appearing on the screen in front of us.

The annoying part, of course, is that Yours Truly is then completely unable to read the credits, now shrunk to half a screen’s width, and consequently never finds out who that maddeningly familiar actor, whose name completely eluded me was, or what that particular piece of music that I simply have to have in my collection might be called!

Very. Frustrating.

It must also be pretty frustrating for all those hardworking cast and crew who poured their heart and soul into the production, only to have their moment of glory, as their name scrolls down the screen, completely ruined in favour of us being told that the football is coming up next. Having, in the past, been involved in film production, it strikes me as a particularly callous way of telling ‘Woman at launderette’ or the Second Unit Key Grip that their efforts are of no consequence to anyone and that what might turn out to be their one and only shot at 15 minutes of fame may as well have been edited out before release.

Whilst working away this week, I managed to stumble – as only I can – onto the set of Six Minutes To Midnight which stars Dame Judy and Eddie Izzard, (stumbling onto movie sets is something of a recurring theme in my life, as reflected on the occasions I’ve find myself accidentally on the set of both Casualty and Doctor Who!). Professional discretion prevents me from revealing whether or not Eddie, Dench and I did lunch, but I can say that Eddie is an extraordinarily nice bloke, and rather more attractive in RL than on the screen. At the end of a long day’s filming, as the extras and supporting cast were ushered into minibuses – (the stars had chauffeur-driven Mercs with tinted windows) – I did however connect with ‘Slim Edwardian Lady in Pretty Yellow Dress’ as she climbed aboard the bus. I couldn’t help thinking what a shame it would be, as her family, clustered around the screen in years to come, that they would need to pause playback and dig out a magnifying glass just to spot her name, because some berk thought people would be more interested in seeing that ‘Animals Do The Stupidest Things’ would be on after the news. I think that’s rather sad.

It’s for moments like that that one of the better aspects of SL, as far as I’m concerned, is the permissions system. I love the way that you can select ‘edit’ whilst looking at an object and it doesn’t matter what its history, whether shape, colour, ownership or whatever has changed; there, tucked away inside and open to inspection by whoever happens to have a passing interest, is revealed a simple credit: The creator.

To me, seeing the content of that little box is rather like the moment Captain Kirk rubs away the dust covering the probe in the first Star Trek movie – and suddenly everything makes sense, (as if we hadn’t guessed already!).

On so many occasions, that simple creator’s credit has been the missing link and the vital clue that has enabled me to track down many an object of my desires along with some of the ancient history and social commentary of SL. All because a name that might otherwise have been forgotten or lost in the miry bog of time was preserved as an intrinsic part of their work. In SL what you create remains testament to its creator. Even after you’re long gone, there’s always going to be something of you that remains – something that anyone with a curious nature can discover with no effort whatsoever.

It’s rather cool, I think, that SL is littered with clues and credits that reflect the genius of the people who’ve made it what  it is. And, unlike on the telly, you don’t have to come right up close to the screen, squint, and try not to blink at the crucial moment, just to find out who the hell it was!

Oh, and if I miss it – if you get to see Six Minutes to Midnight, keep an eye open for ‘Slim Edwardian Lady in Pretty Yellow Dress’, and let me know her name 🙂

s. x

it’s so bizarre you think you are
a new kind of James Dean
but the only thing I’ve ever seen of you
was a commercial spot on the screen
Harpo – Movie Star

Posted in Builder's bum, Philosophicalisticality, Rants, RL, SL | Leave a comment

Towering folly

I’ve always fancied the idea of having an olde worlde stone-built tower on my land, although I’ve never really managed to get around to doing anything about it. A few years back, before I acquired my current parcel of land, I did build myself an old stone watermill which incorporated a turreted gatehouse, but there’s only so much realistically, that you can do with prims, and it was never quite the romantic, rustic folly I intended.

Folly is probably the right word for what I was looking for: I didn’t want, or need, a full blown castle, but I did want something whimsical that made a statement, without being too pretentious. It’s never been at the top of my shopping list though, and although I have come across the occasional candidate, it was either not quite the look I wanted, too expensive, too heavy an impact on the land, or frequently just too massive a structure for my cosy little piece of land.

Then, yesterday, I stumbled across the perfect fit at a yard sale. It was a very reasonable price, the style I wanted, and best of all, it was exactly the dinky size that would fit brilliantly into the space I had – only 17 land impact too. Having found the object of my desires inworld, a cheeky search of the Marketplace turned up an even cheaper resale…  Never before have I made a purchase quite so quickly!

It was only when I returned home and unpacked it that I realised what a prize noob I’d been!

I’ve always questioned the mental capacities of anyone who requires any sort of warning along the lines of ‘objects in the rear view mirror may be closer than they seem’ , but on this occasion I could really have done with a similar prompt… ‘objects displayed in stores may appear smaller than they are!’ It never occurred to me that the display version in the store may have been shrunk down to fit; but boy did that realisation dawn rapidly when I opened the box to rez it. The resulting 50 foot structure was certainly nowhere near 17 LI,more like 117! Oops.

No worries though, I could just do what that enterprising store owner had done, and shrink the massive structure down to a more manageable size. That’s when I discovered that mesh, when combined with non-mesh parts, can misbehave in spectacular fashion! After managing to unlink pretty much every single piece and then unsuccessfully tring to repair the damage I’d wrought, it became abundantly clear to me that whoever had managed to miniaturise the one I’d seen in the store was a lot more adept at it than I am. After much messing about, all I’d managed to achieve was a broken, messed up pile of tower parts with a higher land impact than when I’d started!

Eventually, after much fiddling, repositioning, relinking and cursing, I managed to repair the damage I’d caused – or at least, reduce it to a tolerable level – which is great, but it does mean that I’m right back at square one, facing the prospect of either living with a massive structure that takes up way too much of my primmage, or having another bash at shrinking down this no-copy nightmare to a reasonable size.

Guess what I did?

Yep – I’m not one to be beaten, so I had another bash at it, and this time… Success! Yay!

So, I’ve finally realised my dream of having a romantic stone tower keeping majestic watch over my land, and I’ve learned a thing or two in the process. Firstly, I can still be a total noob when it comes to some things; secondly, doing things in SL is rarely as straightforward as you might think; and finally, sometimes breaking things is the best way to learn. If nothing else, I’ve now worked out how to make my tower as small – or as big – as I want it, so as my fortunes change inworld, at least I can take my tower with me, no matter how much, or little land I may possess.

That’s rather a happy thought 🙂

s. x

“What beauty there is in interrupted towers, which continue in dream and which we all complete within ourselves!”
(Georges Rodenbach, The Bells of Bruges)

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