Wednesday, January 30, 2008

On the boat again

How I can lose my hair.
Actually, there is wind in Second Life...

...and some other very strange events.

It's easy, they sank my boat.
John F. Kennedy, When asked how he became a war hero
35th president of US 1961-1963 (1917 - 1963)


(English version)

Le hasard fait parfois bien les choses.
Pas plus tard qu’hier Jopsy Pendragon publiait un article comme il en a le secret : court, clair, concis, au sujet de la façon d’écrire un blog.
Je me suis permis d’y ajouter un commentaire, histoire de le rendre plus long, pas tellement pour y ajouter du sens, car il est suffisamment imagé pour permettre à n’importe qui d’en comprendre le sens et (peut-être) de se reconnaître un peu dans le portrait qu’il trace du blogueur qui panique à l’idée de laisser passer quelques coquilles.
Et puis le même jour (en fait la nuit) je tombe sur un intéressant article de Prokofy Neva sur les Droits de l’Avatar comparés aux Droits de l’Homme —du moins c’est ce que j’en ai déduit de son titre.
Là aussi je me suis laissé aller à un petit commentaire, non pour le rallonger comme pour celui de Jopsy, mais pour suggérer à Prokofy de faire plus court dans ses explications.
Je vous laisse comparer les deux articles et en guise de cerise sur le gâteau je vous livre cette véritable pépite que je viens de découvrir à l’occasion de mes pérégrinations.
Dégustez-la bien, vous verrez, vous ne risquez pas l’indigestion et elle vous sera certainement très utile —à condition de maîtriser un minimum d’anglais bien entendu !

Pour bien communiquer, ne cherchez pas à faire de "belles phrases", mais efforcez-vous d'écrire avec clarté et concision. (Jacques Bojin)


English version
Everything happens for a reason.
Just yesterday Jopsy Pendragon published one of his articles he has a knack for writing: short, clear and concise, about how to write a blog.
I took the liberty to add a comment, just to make it longer, not so much to add meaning, as it is colorful enough to allow anyone to find sense and (maybe) to identify a bit with the portrait it draws of the blogger who panic at the idea of letting slip a few typos.
And then on the same day (in fact the same night) I find an interesting article Prokofy Neva published on the Rights of the Avatar compared to Human Rights —at least that's what I inferred from its title.
Here again I took the freedom of a short comment, not really to lengthen the post like with Jopsy’s, but suggesting to Prokofy to do more concise in her explanation.
I let you compare the two articles and as an icing on the cake I give you this true nugget I just discovered on the occasion of my wanderings.
Enjoy it well, you will see, no risk of indigestion, and it will certainly be very useful to you, provided you master a minimum of English of course! (but if you can read this don't worry;)

Brevity is the soul of wit.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet
Greatest English dramatist & poet (1564 - 1616)


Is second life a game?

For some people Second Life is definitely a game, they play at being dragons, Harry Potter, criminals, prostitutes, slaves, men, women, and furry animals, and then drop these roles as easily as the world of a film or a book is once finished. However I have not met many people like this.

A game is characterised by many things: by a specific goal; by a delimited range of actions; is somewhat separated from the rest of life; but most of all that one can not lose anything much more serious than the game itself. If what happens in the "game" has serious consequences in the rest of life then it ceases to be a game for the participants and becomes serious.

Many people start by intending to play SL but then get sucked in and it stops being a game. I came to SL initially to study it, I quickly got draw in to playing it, and now simply live part of my life here. If I stopped using SL I would lose close friends, intimate lovers, support and aspects of myself that get no expression in RL. I have no specific goal, but many goals and none (at different times). The joy of interacting in SL is there are an almost unlimited range of actions - one creates ones own possibilities and paths. The only aspect (for me) in which SL is a game is that it is allows for a separation from RL. However even then there are overlaps in terms of time, money, knowledge and our emotions.

SL is an electronic medium in the shape of a shared virtual world. Many things about SL are illusions, not real in any sense. However many things in SL are real. The interaction we have with other avatars is real if more indirect than in RL, causing real sensations and real emotions. We make real friends and sometimes we really fall in love. We pass on real information in the form of text, pictures and sounds. We can really provide some support and care for our friends. There are the begginnings of a real society in SL.

When I touch someone I love in RL, I have the intention to touch, electrical signals pass to my muscles which move and bring my hand into contact with them, their nerve cells detect this, send messages to their brain which constructs the sensation of being touched in their brain. When I touch someone I love in SL, I have the intention to touch, I feel how the movement would be in my imagination, I describe this in words which are transmitted to them, who read the words, imagine the touch, reconstruct how that would be in their brain and hence feel it. Yes the SL process is less direct that that in RL and requires more thought, but it is not less real, at least to me. Both allow the person I love to feel what I intended them to feel. Both processes can be disrupted - in RL by drubs that effect the nervous system or a simple barrier - in SL by a failure of communication or imagination (for example if our brain is telling us it can't be real).

Second Life is no more a game than the internet or the telephone. Sure it can be used by a game and may resemble some games in terms of its surface appearence and the technology it uses. Of course if one refuses to take what happens in SL seriously then you can make it into more of a game by not taking any relationships seriously, not emotionally engaging, not trying to communicate anything of RL value etc. Typically we all have some resistance to thinking of SL as real and of giving it the status of the real - and in some senses this is right. So far the value of what happens in SL is generally much less than the value of what happens in RL (not talking only of monetary value here), but that will change a bit over time.

This does not mean that SL is essentially the same as SL - it has different rules, physics, social norms, social structures, relationships etc. It is a different reality to RL allowing different possibilities and affordances - having different limitations.

Sofian (in the piece below) may be more hesitant, citing fringe benefits of being in SL in terms of the other skills and systems it has lead her into. I am more definite - I have people I really love here, real responsibilities, real decisions to make with real impacts on others - SL is now just part of my life - this is where I live some of what is my life, for better or worse. Leaving SL would now be like a little death for me, some part of me that has grown up and is connected with others around the world would be lost. I would be a lesser person.