Featured event: “The State Of Being” Lecture

“The State Of Being” lecture by Pamala Clift

WHEN:
June 4, 2015
6 PM PDT/1 AM UTC
WHERE:
RUC Classroom A
COST:
Free
WEBSITE:
www.roadsidephilosopher.com

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As residents of the virtual world we care about (which is Second Life, of course), we are responsible to a great degree for our experiences and even experiences of others, and it is worth understanding better the world in which we live, even if we live there only several hours a week. Pamala Clift, the human/computer interface psychology reseacher, who goes in Second Life by the Roadside Philosopher title, realizes that as well, and as such, on the first Thursday of each month, she gives her famous “The State Of Being” lecture at the Rockcliffe University of Second Life. This lecture is aimed to educate Second Life residents about the social environment of virtual worlds, about various types of people we meet there, to answer different questions about the nature of virtual communications, especially in the interactive environment, and a lot more.

If you are concerned about the wellbeing of Second Life, or any virtual world you are living in now or will join in the future, it is highly recommended to go to the “The State Of Being” lecture. It is free of charge exclusively for virtual world residents – in the real world, you would have to pay quite a sum. No background in psychology or any other field is required, and regardless of one’s background, everybody will learn something valuable there. What you are going to learn during the “The State Of Being” lecture is applicable not only to Second Life, but to any virtual world, and even to the real world to some extent.

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Among so many researchers who believe that spending two weeks in the virtual world is more than enough to dwell into its deepest insights, Pamala Clift very much stands out, with her neverending quest to understand the social structure of the virtual realm as a whole and her continuous interest in its residents as individuals alike. Unlike other researchers, Pamala does not attempt to explain the virtual experience as the mere extention of the real world, but rather analyzes the virtual world on its own, without disconnecting it from the real world, but at the same time considering it to be a discrete entity where rules and regulations differ in many aspects from the real world for the sake of suiting it best.

What do people come to the virtual world for? What do they stay for? How do they perceive other residents? How can we make our own virtual experience as pleasant as possible? These are the questions each of us can give a different answer to. Pamala is one of a few people who has made an attempt to take possible answers into account, combine them with residents’ experiences and observations she has made throughout her Second Life, and derive the most feasible and systematic framework within which it becomes much easier to explain communications and social events in the virtual world. Now she is ready to share it with all of you in a form of “The State Of Being” lecture.

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Featured place – Vega City

Visit the place in Second Life

Almost everybody who opens a brand new place in Second Life believes that the place they have created is exactly what the Second Life Grid has been lacking all this time. The logic they usually follow is that there is an eternal shortage of nightclubs, shopping malls and adult roleplaying places. They know that their club/mall/adult roleplay will be the place to be, that any sensible interactive items that take advantage of the virtual world are not needed, however an abundant presense of decorations and furniture that plays couple animations, all arranged in the way that makes a visitor of the place wish for a new policy in Second Life ToS against the violation of city planning principles, is strictly required. All in all, it is the owner’s business how to build the place, but sadly, some of them have enough money earned in real life to pay the monthly fee for their place on the Grid, which allow their places, as well as their sense of self-worth, to linger for a long enough time, even if their place is ignored due to the inability of anybody who values their time to stay there for longer than a minute.

Vega City aerial view

Like many people in Second Life, I was out of activities, and that is how I have ended up considering the event at 9:30 PM, which read: “Vega City Official Opening!”. Let us admit it: cities are not frequent in Second Life in the first place. Usually the place one visits is either a beach, a club that occupies the entire region, a shopping mall or a store that occupies the entire region, a club and a shopping mall that occupy the entire region together, or a checkerboard of private residential areas. So the word “city” itself attracted attention. The description, “Join us for shopping, partying, gaming, and more!”, even while proposing two activities that are out of my consideration, included the magic word “gaming”, which is seldom used in promoting places and hense makes one want to give the place a chance, even if it turns out that by “gaming” the owner meant a single Greedy Greedy table at the corner of the region.

As soon as I have landed there, it has become clear that at the very least I will enjoy the sight. The place gives a feeling of a small, but fairly rich town separated from the mainland, where it is always warm and residents of the place do not know the meaning of such terms as “ugly” or “equal pay”. Visiting such places is a particularly pleasant experience when living on the verge of winter and spring, which reinforces the feeling that soon warm weather will come to real life as well.

Hangout

The landing point is at the beginning of a shopping alley. On one side, there is the open air hangout area with a bar and a view on the cascade fountain in the water and a flock of ducks (all of whom are male). A white sign to the right gives useful hints on how to reduce lag at the place and Second Life in general. This area, as well as benches along the shore facing the same fountain and ducks, can be a great spot for chatting with other residents or indulging in Second Life residents’ favourite activity – being AFK.

The shopping alley features stores that sell the only thing all residents of Second Life can have a use for – apparel items. A fountain, which features a “Failed Wireframe Mode” sculpture, marks the end of the shopping alley.fountain

Which means that it is time to turn left and explore the residential area. There are individual modern houses for those who appreciates their private space. Everything is designed to support the hedonistic lifestyle loved so much by residents of Second Life.

Residential

There are also two apartment complexes with full floor apartments and a view on one another, as well as the entire town. A great way to make friends with an entire household living above or below you by putting a luxury particle emitter with a range beyond the floor or the ceiling in your apartment. Or with the entire complex population – by doing daily basejumping.

Apartment

And now, to the part of the town that I hope to be the most populated one at all times – the Community Center.

Community Center

The owner of the place, Ggio Vega (abidemi11), has kindly escorted me to this place as an answer to my “Any games over here?” question. To begin with, there is a pool table, which is actually meant to play pool on it, unlike those placed at adult areas.

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The other room has a tic tac toe board in it (a chalkboard right on the table), two Memolation cabinets and a game that deserves a place at every community center in both lives – the Beer Pong.

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Obviously, there is no gaming place without a Greedy table. This Community Center has not just one, but two rooms with them.

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For those who prefers more passive activities, there are two rooms that serve as movie theaters.

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And three empty rooms. One can hope they will be filled with board games as well!

Finally, this place would not be modern if it did not cater to modern people. We all know them: bearded, wearing glasses with plain lenses or without lenses at all, wearing designer clothes that look like they were dug out of their grandfather’s wardrobe after being thoroughly eaten by moth, majoring in art history and running away from everything they declare “mainstream”. Modern people are most often found in three types of places: a fashionable bar with a neon sign and modern furniture, an art gallery with paintings nobody seems to understand but them, and a bakery that sells European pastries for the price of a whole lunch per slice of cake. Well.

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As you can see, there are indeed things to see and do in this small place. Ggio Vega has also mentioned that they have “an affiliate with a fully functioning racetrack that we use to host events and more”. But for now, the place of the most interest at Vega City is going to be the Community Center – finding a place with interactive games is hard on itself in Second Life, but finding a place with interactive games that also looks good is truly challenging. You will not miss it – once you have landed, go beyond the end of the shopping alley.

map

For those who are interested in more traditional Second Life activities, there is a shopping alley mentioned above and two dancefloors – the group promises events, which evidently include dance events as well. All the houses and apartments are available for rent, in case you desire to experience the lifestyle you cannot try in real life for whatever reason.

If you happen to have a Facebook account, Vega City also has a Facebook page. Go ahead and like it. When it goes mainstream, you will have a right to claim that you liked it before it was mainstream.

Visit the place in Second Life

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Taking over Second Life with a slink

Three days ago, on January 28th, Rowena Springflower has released a new group gift. It was mesh feet named High Footsies.

High Footsies, as seen in the Designs by Rowena group notice.

High Footsies, as seen in the Designs by Rowena group notice.

According to the description in the notice, those feet “work with most shoes designed for slink high feet. they are compatible with the omega applier system so be on look out for skin textures from you favorite skin creator”. Wonderful news for all Second Life fashionistas who cannot afford Slink feet or refuse to deal with the fact that “you must pay this much for the ability to wear new shoes”. It seems that the humankind is considering the world where all the new items of clothes are made for one size impossible to achieve naturally, and you have to undergo plastic surgery to be able to wear them. If you don’t have money for that surgery – it isn’t anyone’s problem but yours. The world cares for you, it wants you to be beautiful.

Only several hours later, the gift was taken down. The notice has followed:

Due to some questions on the rights to the mesh for the group gift footsies im going to take down for the time being till can get some conformation one way or another on them. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Hugs
Rowena

The chat didn’t reveal more, other than that Rowena Springflower, the designer, had to get the mesh creator to “get it sorted”. The next notice, two days later, read:

After disusing things with some friends and other designer iv made a decision that the Footsies will not be put back out. The reason for this decision is that I feel continuing to offer them would adversely affect other individuals business that they have spent time and energy establishing which was never my intention. I apologize for any inconvenience.

Hugs
Rowena

I am not the one to tell the store owner what to do. I live perfectly fine with system feet. I possess more shoes for the system feet than I will ever wear in my Second Life.

But the reasoning behind this is quite unclear to me.

If I got it right, Rowena was the one who has made the feet, or modified a legally bought mesh model – she didn’t copybot them, she didn’t steal them from other creators. A system other than Slink is used in those feet, this is what I can only assume, since I do not possess Slink feet, therefore it is not stolen either.

The message in the chat reveals Rowena Springflower’s good nature:

[2015/01/30 21:04:36] Rowena Spingflower: there are designers and creators that have spent alot of time in developing the feet systems haveing one out for free or at a very low cost would impact thier businesses and that was not my intention when i put them out

I'm waiting for the Slink advertisement to appear where they were.

If you relax your eyes and look at the blank space for long enough, you will see the hidden Slink advertisement.

If those designers are this good and make feet systems that are this good – residents will prefer their feet over free feet. Residents will be willing to pay money for their feet because they are worth it. The business that makes the best product, or the one that provides the best service has more customers than other businesses, even if other businesses have cheaper alternatives.

Rowena has developed this feet system, and she is free to do what she wants with it. She can put it up for free as a group gift, she can set a cost of L$99 for it. Residents are free to choose between free feet or much more advanced official Slink feet.

I myself am against the monopoly on products. My views do not matter for the business world of Second Life, though. But the reasoning of another business supporting the monopoly just because the owner of the business is a good person is still a mystery for me – do they expect the monopoly to do the same for them someday?

The monopoly will not do it, even in Second Life, the paragon of friendliness and common spirit of creativity. Because in the end of the day, it is a business. And the business world is blind to emotions, ethics and human relationship – it can use them in its own ways, but the thing the business always puts the most effort into is profit.

The more, the better.

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Hair Fair 2014 – the more you know

Snapshot_003The Hair Fair organizers have published the donations information, which has allowed me to finish the analysis of the fair. This analysis will be deeper than “this fair sells cute hair, therefore it is the best thing that happened to Second Life!” analysis found at fashion blogs. This one contains numbers, logic and other stuff not for the faint-hearted. However, you will learn a lot about the event itself.

How much money has been spent on hair in total over there? How many people have visited the fair? Who are those people?

Time to answer these questions!

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It’s a scam. Do click it!

Too late, I'm afraid. By the moment you look at that URL, the scammer already knows all of your passports, has downloaded all of your hard drive contents and raped all of your relatives.

Too late, I’m afraid. By the moment you look at that URL, the scammer already knows all of your passports, has downloaded all of your hard drive contents and raped all of your relatives.

There were many times that we have seen an unknown URL with an illogical set of symbols appearing in the group chat or even in our own instant message box, usually accompanied by an offer you cannot possibly turn down, like getting a big pile of linden dollars for completing a survey.

There is something that amazes me much more than the generousity of those people – it is the philanthropic feeling the average Second Life resident gets when he sees such an offer and rushes to alert everybody on the local chat with the bravery of someone defusing a bomb where there are seconds left before it blows up.

Good intentions are great, and I do appreciate what those courageous people are doing for nothing but a gratitude from many saved residents. My idea is that usually they do not only warn you about doing anything on the website behind the link – they do not want you to click on the URL at all.

Have I been wondering why!

The amount of tech-savvy people around the world grows. They might not know how to set up an SQL server or how to write a plugin for their favourite program, but most of them are well aware about different kinds of cyberscams, and even more of them know that nothing good in life comes for free. Indeed, there are people who remember punched cards and therefore are having a harder time to keep up with all the methods scammers use today – but, honestly, unlike techniques, the initial principle of the scam has not been updated since ancient times, so these people just need to remember that you never get something for nothing. If they forget… well, a fool and his money are soon parted, one way or another, not through this scam, then through another one. It is cruel, but it is true.

Now, back to URLs, the original subject of the post.

Saw an unknown URL in a group chat? Give it less than a minute before the “IT IS SCAM DO NOT CLICK IT” message from a concerned resident appears.

Here is the fact. It is safe to click it. It is not safe to do anything on the webpage that has appeared or the executable file/archive that has decided to be downloaded (never witnessed, just can assume this might happen too). To be true, I click them myself often, just out of curiousity – maybe there is a new techique scammers have come up with?

If you need a proof that they are safe to click – let us take a look at the known methods scammers use and when they actually work.

– A phishing webpage which looks exactly like the Second Life log in page.

When you open one… nothing happens. You need to type something into text fields for the scammer to make use of your visit. Even if it traces your keystrokes and records what you have typed into the password field, therefore knows your password before you click the fake Log In button – still, you need to type it first. Manually. So, you can just open the page, have a chuckle and close it. Or can type a random username and password to make a scammer’s life a little more complicated.

– An archive/executable (*.exe) file that wants to be downloaded.

When you download it… nothing happens. For something bad to happen, you need to open/execute it by yourself – it will not start automatically. So, you can either cancel the download immediately or download it and check with your antivirus. You can just delete it, too.

I do not defend scammers at all here. My sole point is that if you are curious about what is there, you can safely open the website and not do anything there (type or click anything except for the Close button). You have my guarantees that nothing will happen even to your account, let alone your web browser or PC. However, all of the keystrokes and clicks done at that website are your responsibility – as well as opening what it has made you download.

Nowadays, viruses hide even in thumb drives’ firmware. So the only way to protect yourself is living it smart. If you need the first step, may I suggest checking out this website once a month. Sometimes, there are interesting readings.

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Second Life 2.0, part 2: commercial

I did not plan to split this post into two for the reason that I knew it would take me forever to write the second part. Not because it is harder, not because it is less important, but because it would be expected to be delivered late.

It was possible to keep both parts together, but it would turn out to be a lengthy post – so, here it is, part 2, written almost half a month after the first part.

Last time, in this post, I was talking about the social aspect of today’s Second Life and what we can take away from it. Today, let us talk about the other thing that makes people nervous – their wide collection of items in the inventory which they use once in a second lifetime and forget about, but want to keep nonetheless. Why? Because these items cost something.

I can hardly argue here, everything in Second Life costs something, everything is worth somebody’s time and possibly money. Many of us have spent money (or time) on whatever we need in Second Life – a fancy hairstyle or a convertible to travel the mainland, it differs to each of us. It is worth something to us, not only in a sense of a financial value, but an emotional one too.

So, why should we not cling to that? You will find out that the reasons are the same you apply for other things you’ve ever bought.

– They become outdated

By the time mesh has took off entirely, many of us had possessed items made of sculpts and system clothes. Some of us even had a whole lot of them. But mesh indisputably looks better, and so we rushed to the stores once again, without thinking for a moment about linden dollars spent 2-3 years ago on an item that would give you a million dollar look back then.

Police-Costume-not-even-mesh

Not mesh. Quality does not seem to be the best you can have today. Tons of other, better options available to you. Do you really want to stick with this one just because you paid for it back in 2009?

We advance. If we always preserved everything that has been implemented refusing to move on, because you know, you’ve spent so much money on it back then – we would not advance. Why developing something that people will not use? Why solving problems if people would rather sacrifise comfort for an extra penny?

The next Second Life will have newer things to offer – hopefully they’re better things. So, do you really want to keep your car containing a senile script with illogical physics under the hood instead of getting the one that will give you the real joy of driving in the new environment? Just because the former one costed you L$2500 back in its time? That would be just like continuing using Windows 2000 nowadays (it is year 2014, by the way). For the record, its retail price was around $300 back in 2000.

– They become unneeded

Our inventories are bottomless, which allows us to store an infinite amount of items in them. Items we use regularly, items we use from time to time, items we use occasionally, items we have used for a long while but not anymore, items we have used once or twice to happily forget about them afterwards, items we hope to use someday, and finally, items we do not even remember about. You have paid for at least some of them.

your-bike

How long has it been since you drove your vehicle?
The picture has been taken at JAZ Custom Bikes

For each of us, the amount of items that fall into these categories will differ – but something makes me believe that for most of the residents, there is not that many items that go under first two or even three categories. So, here’s a question: why would you need those things in the new metaverse if you do not even use them in the existing one?

Because they cost money and you do not want to pay for them again when you need them? Fair enough. But not convincing. If you did not need them that much by now, there is little to no guarantee that you will ever need them. Besides, by that time, you will probably have better options available for purchase – so you doubtfully will want to finally unpack that gadget you longed to use when you can get one with more options for a reasonable price.

– They will clutter your inventory, and LL servers as following, in the next metaverse

Item from the current Second Life will not suffise. Whenever you get into a new environment, to get the best experience, you want to use the items developed specifically for that environment. Even if you find a use for those you have brought from the current Second Life to the future one, I have doubts you will be able to carry on with them for a long enough time, while the new virtual world advances and you get better alternatives for what you already possess.

Finally, last case – you resent the future Second Life because you have invested a lot of your time, as well as money, on, for example, premium account, on paying your land tier, on tipping owners of favorite places etc.

Here, I can draw an analogy with an amusement park, or a theater, or even better, a museum. When you visit such venues and pay money, what do you receive in return? Nothing material. You receive a good time, fun, relief, cultural experience – but you do not get anything tangible, maybe only something small as a souvenir or a complimentary glass of champagne. Do you complain too once you leave the place that you have spent your money and now left with nothing? If you need something material, you should go to the store.

There might be many more reasons I could not think of, it is totally subjective. The final point I would like to make is this: If you really think you will not survive in Second Life 2.0 without your Second Life 1.0 possessions, think again. Are your reasons really that valid? Everybody will have to start from the bottom, not you only. Everybody will be challenged with new opportunities, not you only.

After all, back at some point in our lives, each of us has left something valuable behind for the sake of learning the current Second Life.

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SL11B outtakes

Welcome to Second Life. Would you like a guide? Or do you prefer getting lost on your own?

Welcome to Second Life. Would you like a guide? Or do you prefer getting lost on your own?

While all the events were through a week ago, we still had exhibits to explore. Many, many exhibits from all kinds of people, talented or not, and organizations, useful or not. Now it is all over, we can go back to everyday Second Life. We cannot leave such a significant and important event without a few outtakes.

In my opinion, Second Life 11th Birthday Celebration had to be something that allows us to observe, as well as demonstrate, what we all have achieved through all these years of hard work and regular updates. Something that shows what we are dealing with today and what awaits us in the nearest future – better if something promising.

To my great surprise, it was pretty close to my expectations. The event turned out to be a miniature Second Life, where some things have been cut off to make it look good before the public. Successful? Depends on what they actually wanted to achieve.

I want to congratulate the organizers on creating something that resembles what a mainland looks like today with such an amazing accuracy. All kinds of buildings and creations piled up together. Lots of blinking objects. Skyboxes in the midair. Nothing is regulated, everybody builds whatever they want to build wherever they want. They even have brought Yava Pods there. Great thinking.

Looks like there was a regulation, though – there were no stores. Fair enough, we have got enough commerce going on the Grid, and this event was supposed to show that Second Life is about anything but money.

This must have been a test on our proficiency in understanding modern art. I’ve failed it.

If not about money, what is it about then? SL11B has the answer right in front of you in a shape of a tree/ladder going up to the Second Life sky with inspirational quotes along the way. Or how about a wall with photographs taken in Second Life? Or you prefer a fine collection of cubes with animated faces on them?

I by no means claim that art is a thing that has no use in life, first or second. But at the event where we were to show and see what we have achieved, when we witness that art is prevalent, it tells us about something. I cannot help myself but infer from this event that Second Life is primarily suitable for creating things that can be observed, but not interacted with, at least in-world.

The other thing that made me come to another conclusion is the amount of booths. This tells you some more about what Second Life is. Quantity. Often over quality. Many people just do their own thing, and each of them needs their own space. Some are good at one thing, some are good at another thing, some are good at nothing, few are good at everything. Everyone wants to display their accomplishments. This is terrific – but do their creations actually belong to the most important event on the Second Life Grid? Sometimes an artist’s feelings should be hurt in order for him to get a reality check.

It seems that we did not need a huge amount of booths dedicated to stores and clubs to find similarities between the event and your everyday second life. Now that SL11B is over and the next event is just a year away, we have got some time to think about which Second Life we want to put on the display next year – and strive for this Second Life to happen.

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