much alive about nothing

So I spent some more time in my newly created room in lively but I don’t seem to warm up to it (whereas second life was love at first sight for me). I figured out how to move around, I even figured out how I could move my furniture but I don’t know yet how I’m supposed to search for other people, or how I can find their rooms, how to make snapshots (yes, I like to document my life), and what I’m supposed to do, besides chatting around. I wonder if google really wanted to present the second life follow up because if that was the plan, I don’t see much resemblance so far. I have gotten to know second life as an inspiring place where creativity is pushed forward. In lively all I see is limitations so far. Where in second life I have always felt I could expand my personality, in lively I just feel Im using a fancy chatprogramme. I know there are people who also consider sl to be exactly that, but I’m not one of them. What I do find interesting however is how apparently some well known sl users have already found their sl names used in lively, and not by them. That’s interesting, no? I wonder who would be doing such a thing, and more importantly why. Does it tell us something about the expectations some people may have? Another thing that’s basically just funny to see is how many sex rooms are already available on lively. One of the bigger issues when sl was hyped was the enormous amount of sex related stuff that could be found, mostly even without searching. Nice to see that just wasn’t an sl thing after all, but mainly just human nature.

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metanomics

It was about time I wrote something about metanomics. I’m not exactly sure what to call it, is it an organization? Is it a project? A talk show? Conference center? What is it? Fact is that mr. Beyers Sellers (rl name Robert Bloomfield) started something that is turning out to be a pretty succesful endeavor in sl. On the faq page of the metanomics website I read the following:

”Metanomics’ refers to the study of the business and policy aspects of the “metaverse” of virtual worlds. Metanomics can focus on issues arising within virtual worlds, such as how developers manage the economy of a game world (like World of Warcraft), or how residents of virtual worlds manage and regulate business. Metanomics also includes the study of how real-world businesses can use virtual worlds as part of their strategy, and how real-world law and regulation might apply to virtual-world activities. Finally, metanomics includes the use of virtual worlds as laboratories in which to study real-world business or policy issues.’

At the moment metanomics has a regular in-world talk show / discussion on monday nights (european time, its noon slt) with usually a pretty much filled up room. I have been present a few times now and it has always been busy. In fact, this week I couldn’t get in because the sim was full, which is when I found out about the partnersims. Such a nifty thing! Together with some belgian journalists I was able to follow the whole thing in another sim on live screen and read all chatcomments from the other sims due to another smart thing called chatbridge. Real nice. Last monday one of the sl-art-scene-celebrities Bettina Tizzy was on.

I must say, it was not that I heard so much new things but she took the words right out of my mouth when she spoke about commercial companies in sl and how they still can’t seem to find a suitable and effective way to present themselves in sl. You can see the video of last mondays metanomics session here (which btw I can recommend, and unless you are considering a career in wedding planning you can skip the first part). And so there it is, a pretty succesful metanomics, an alive-and-kickin-sl-art-scene, struggling-with-virtuality-rl-companies and google presents us…lively. Off course I felt obliged to at least take a look. So I did, and honestly? To me it seems like a pimped chat programme for teens. But I must say that until now I have only spent one hour there, and I have not yet figured out how to move around. Ahum, sl eye-hand coordination is playing tricks on me. Two big differences, and I think essential ones if you compare lively and second life, are the fact that lively is not so much a world but more a collection of visualised chat rooms, and the fact that users cannot create in lively. Up until now, that is. And there is no economy, up until now as well. Anyway, for anyone who wants to know, my lively name is vivermicelli.

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walkie talkies 2.0

As part of the augmented reality exhibition in The Hague located organization Tag, Sander Veenhof further developed his walkie talkie walks (see also this & this post). He made a few changes for the better, I think. This time the movements of the rl people, moving around in a selected area of The Hague made Sanders avi, called Overig Solzhenitsyn, move around in second life. He positioned himself in a sandbox and dressed himself up pretty neat, in a nice cardboard advertisement

board saying: TALK TO ME! Our rl text messages, sent to a given mobile number were then displayed in second life and answers, given by second life avi’s in sl chat were then sent to a mobile phone we were carrying with us in rl. And we had live contact! Unfortunately we couldn’t understand a word they were saying but in a way it also didn’t matter to me much. In fact I think it gave some extra flavour to the whole experience, it being very much the sound of a different world this way. Im not entirely sure how he did it but Sander made it visible for us to spot the locations of the sandbox avi’s on the google map of The Hague

so we could actually walk towards the (in the rl streets non existent) avi’s to speak with them. So in the pics below you see us, on the streets of The Hague with a laptop, gps device, mobile phones and a crappy megaphone…trying to move Overig around in a busy busy sandbox and trying to decipher martian textmessages. real fun it was anyway!


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sintetika

I’m waaaay too late with this post. But here it is anyway. There’s a new club in town. Or maybe it’s an old club, I have no idea really. It was new to me however. In a useless attemp to clean up my inventory I came across the sintetika landmark. Intrigued by the name I hopped over and liked what I saw. Little waving words all around me, made by no other than miss Strawberry (Holiday) herself. Such a nice surprise. Unfortunately strawberry’s words are no longer there, the concept of the place being a changing design monthly (by different artists, designers), or regulary anyway. I had the pleasure of being surrounded by strawberry’s words twice. Once just by myself, checking out the place. The other time I landed in middle of a great party, fab music! Some more pics:


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brooklyn is watching!

In popcha stands a tower. A tower from which visitors to the Jack the Pelican Presents gallery in Williamsburg, New York can watch all that is happening on the popcha land. I found out about this project because Juria Yoshikawa sent out invitations to go see the work he made for Brooklyn is watching, called Neon Graffiti Party, and to my surprise I found a lot more works there by other wellknown names such as Dancoyote Antonelli and Strawberry Holiday. The owners of the land call the project a ‘hybrid RL / SL art project’. What to make of it? I don’t know yet, in the tower lives an eye, an eye that visitors can use to look around but I have not yet seen the eye in action so far. Besides that, the land appears to be a bit messy at he moment. What I do like though is that it is another way of making known what is going on in sl artwise without the immediate need for reviewing or criticizing in the most traditional sense. The sign next to the entrance says it like this:

‘and you will be watched, thought about, and commented upon…whatever…leave ‘something’ ‘here’ and it will be chronicaled on our blog and talked about on the brooklyn is watching podcast or….possibly….ignored….or possibly….mocked.’

So even though the tower seemed somewhat deserted when I looked up I can only applaud a rl gallery making a serious attempt in showing sl and its artists and thus trying to monitor these developments.

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angrybeth shortbread

Last week I finally met miss Angrybeth Shortbread. I had already come across her name several times but I never actually got to talking to her. Angrybeth works in her rl as an artist and teacher at Leeds College of Art and Design and does in fact the same in sl. The reason for talking to her now was my visit to PLAY, an exhibition of several of her sound installations at The Collective, the island of the Leeds college. These installations were made between 2006 and 2008 and they have been put together on display to accompany a lecture she performed at FACT, the Liverpool based Foundation for Art and Creative Technology. This lecture was done for the People: Place: Presence event at FACT which was a one day mix of seminar and demos by a range of audio-visual artists. Angrybeth showed her sound pieces and talked about the properties and potential of a place like second life. What I like about her is how serious she is about virtual worlds, the development of (the use of) those worlds and how she wants her students to explore them. She teaches Design for Digital Media and she therefore considers that only logical but still, she told me the UK artworld is, like the Dutch one, very reluctant in embracing Second Life. However the Leeds college has their own island in sl where the students can work and experiment. Angrybeth showed me the work they have done for book publisher Penguin. With sl being hyped in Europe in 2007 a lot of commercial companies jumped in without understanding what sl really is and how to use it. Penguin, contrary to those companies, indicated that what they wanted was anything but a giant bookstore or office. So what they have now is a giant typewriter, a headphone and pda. The typewriter has a twitter account and whichever you decide to write with the machine shows on the twitter page. Sitting under the headphone gives you some special selected penguin podcasts and the pda gives you the penguin website. Angrybeth stressed that it was built more than a year ago, almost as if she was apologizing for the place not being completely up to date. I don’t think it mattered, nor does it matter if penguin decides to continue being in sl or not, the fact is that to me it was a nice example of how presence in a virtual world can be done using the characteristics of these worlds instead of just copying a rl office into sl. To me it showed vision, even if it was a one year old vision and considering how hard it can be building a stable thing in an environment that is still so much subject to change and development. Angrybeth: ‘Thats another problem for companies in sl, things break. Virtual world marketing has still a long way to mature’. But, back to Angrybeths sound installations. I thought they were pretty great. The different installations were called names like ‘stretch’, ‘push’,

‘collide’ and ‘sense’, this is a pic of ‘push’. What it does, see the blocks hanging above my head? You can change their size and thus decide on the tone you want to hear. Each block has the complete C scale and by clicking it you can hear all the notes. So, once you have set the tones you can go and push the thing on the ground which then makes a controller trigger the notes. So you can vary in the notes by clicking the blocks but you can add even more variation by pushing slower or faster, forward or backward. The ‘mechanics’ of the thing are actually a lot like those of an oldfashioned musicbox. And like Strawberry Holiday’s journey (see this post) this also can be used as a training practice where avi locomotion is

concerned. A nice video with a demonstration can be seen here. Anyway, next pic is my other favorite one called ‘stretch’. This one measures the size of your avi and converts it to a tone. It is not an installation that is best experienced on your own since hearing only one tone could easily become boring. So when Angrybeth joined me I could fully understand the working and fun of this installation. If you have 2, 4, 7 or 10 different avi’s with different heights it gives you 2, 4, 7 or 10 different tones. And then the note order is based on whoever is closest to the pole in the middle. So, thats nice right? But now think of the possibilities. In sl I can not only put on heels or take of my shoes, I can also grow and shrink! And so can my fellow avi’s! And then we can change position. Lots and lots of possibilities.

Angrybeth: ‘you need friends to play this, so I suppose it also encourages people to be social in a social online world’. This is me and Angrybeth being 1.35 and 2.0 meters long which gave us the high and low C. Short being the high one and tall being the lower one obviously. I must be honest, I was a bit reluctant changing the height of my avi and I don’t really understand why, since I do know how to work the sliders. I guess it has something to do with me getting a bit attached to my sl shape. Angrybeth: ‘what I like about this piece is seeing how many people WILL not alter their avatar’. And that brought us to one of the most important ingredients as to why this piece can not be done in rl. Angrybeth:’you can make sensors to calcute height, but I can’t grow instantly, and also you’re in the Netherlands, I’m in UK. Yet it feels like we’re interacting within the same space.’ She couldn’t be more right. Exactly that last point made me almost

forget about the rl impossibilities and asking the fairly stupid question why this work could not be done in rl. Last one I want to show here is ‘sense’. What this does is it takes the unique key of your avi, which is called a UUID and can be considered the equivalent of our rl DNA I guess. Angrybeth: ‘This unique number is translated into a 16 note scale and so these data are transposed from numbers to a phrase of music which is unique to your avi. That phrase is then stored in a bank of the last 50 people that visited the installation. So what you hear is in fact the traffic of the place.’ So, all and all I was pretty impressed with Angrybeth’s work and really enjoyed the few hours I spent with her talking about her work which I think is really great. Unfortunately the PLAY exhibition has only been up for the month of april but mostly everything can be found on the Pencil Factory, which is Angrybeths gallery, or as she prefers to call it, her sketchbook.

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greenies

One of my favourite heroesses is Alice. The one that ended up in wonderland, yes. And ever since I took my first steps in sl there were many moments I wished I could have talked to her since it seemed to me we could really relate. But I never felt as strongly about it as the time I was in the greenies home. When you go there you end up somewhere underneath the house but, like Alice, I followed the clues and ended up inside.

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In the house I thought. Wrong. As it turned out I actually was in the dollhouse, in the house. In the enormous house I may say.

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I suddenly shrunk to the size of the greenies that live and play there.

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And even though it was fun playing with the radio control car, me being a girl and all I immediately ran for the gigantic handbag lying on the gigantic chair.

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Hehe, girls and their handbags. See what happens if you loose yourself in sl cosmetics? You think Alice would have used lipgloss?

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