inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #76 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Wed 19 Mar 08 13:22
    
You say you decided not to get involved in the virtual sex scene
yourself, as a journalist, and that's an interesting choice. Can you
say what went through your mind about that decision?


Cynthia slipped in! I hope we can keep talking a few days at least, or
until James gets bored with this. There is a lot of stuff in the book
that we haven't touched on yet.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #77 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 19 Mar 08 14:27
    

Yes, please.  Don't stop.  This is fascinating.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #78 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Thu 20 Mar 08 00:31
    
I'm happy to keep hitting questions as I can!

"Can you say what went through your mind about that decision?"

First and foremost, if I ever was to try virtual sex out as a Linden,
screenshots might immediately be snapped and end up everywhere on the
Net, causing a metaverse scandal.  More than that, I knew it was
something that made my SO uncomfortable, and I ultimately think it was
enough to understand it as an observer.  For me even the act of avatar
kissing  can have a charge, the association with your alter ego is so
direct, so it was easy to see how a lot of folks would get a lot of
going all the way.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #79 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Thu 20 Mar 08 13:08
    
I was very interested in something you indicate is almost universal in
Second Life, that the degree of virtual sex is in inverse proportion
to the strength of the emotional relationship.  You say that people who
are emotionally involved are less likely, perhaps much less likely, to
engage in virtual sex. Why do you think that is?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #80 of 101: Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Thu 20 Mar 08 16:08
    

And, as a sidebar question, is it possible to have your virtual sex where
nobody else can see you?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #81 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Thu 20 Mar 08 17:04
    
Because the relationship becomes emotionally and intellectually
intimate first, and so by that point, having avatar sex seems like a
let down or slightly cheesy.  That is a generalization, though; a
couple I write about in the book fall in love (and eventually become a
real life couple) *while* having sex and making sex animations for a
business they run.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #82 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Thu 20 Mar 08 17:18
    
Slip.  "To have your virtual sex where nobody else can see you?"

Yes, but to insure near-absolute privacy, you have to take some extra
steps.  Being behind closed doors isn't usually enough, because SL
users have a camera control system that moves their view 100 meters or
so away from them.  As a result, most people use "skyboxes", which as
the name suggests are boudoirs located over 500 meters up, which are
impossible to reach via avatar flight.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #83 of 101: uber-muso hipster hyperbole (pjm) Thu 20 Mar 08 17:20
    
How about if you have a skybox within 100m of another skybox?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #84 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Thu 20 Mar 08 23:31
    
Then I guess you and your neighbor can play airborne peekaboo.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #85 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Fri 21 Mar 08 14:06
    
Hopefully you'd both be too busy to bother.

You write a good bit about some errors Linden Labs made as they tried
over the years to encourage different forms of social contact and
creativity. I was surprised that they seemed so naive about instituting
such things as open lot ratings, without realizing the (obvious to me)
potential for abuse. Why did ideas like that seem good to them at the
time? (Maybe they're not as cynical about the Internet as I am.)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #86 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Fri 21 Mar 08 16:25
    
Good question.  I think a lot of the naievete comes from their
tech-centric culture, and a desire to systemically architect for good
behavior.  Trouble is, people are inherently prone to find loopholes,
and the society was so small at the time, even a few instances of
gaming the system undermined the whole thing.  Right now, with a
million plus users, I think a lot of those ratings mechanisms would
actually work fairly well.   People try to game Digg and YouTube's
systems, for example, but with millions of users, it's much more
difficult.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #87 of 101: Michael C. Berch (mcb) Fri 21 Mar 08 23:33
    
That brings up a question I'd been meaning to ask - does SL have a
problem with gold farming and similar activities? (I'm not a SL
member, so I don't know if that's even possible, but I know it has
been very controversial in other MMOs.) 
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #88 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Sat 22 Mar 08 14:57
    
"a problem with gold farming and similar activities"

Sort of, but not in the way it happens in traditional MMOs. "Gold
farming" as a negative activity describes players who rampantly harvest
virtual currency/valuable items created by the company and then sell
them on EBay or another site.  That's a problem primarily because it
tends to cause inflation.  In Second Life, by contrast, almost all the
Linden Dollars in the world is bought and sold by Residents for US$. 
To attract visitors and regular traffic, many landowning Residents
actually give away L$ to other Residents in what are called "camping
chairs"-- when you sit in them, you get L$.  That's the closest thing
to gold farming in SL, but it doesn't hurt the Second Life economy,
because it doesn't directly impact the amount of currency in the world.
 It does lead to negative social consequences, in the sense that leads
to a substantial percent of Residents (mostly new users) not really
participating in SL, but instead, literally sitting waiting around for
free money.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #89 of 101: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Mon 24 Mar 08 16:01
    
I'm getting ready to travel for a day, but I'll be back with more
questions. If any of the rest of you want to discuss any particular
points, please do!
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #90 of 101: Ian Betteridge (ianb) Tue 25 Mar 08 02:43
    
Really, we ought to have a live version of this discussion in SL :)
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #91 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Tue 25 Mar 08 05:47
    
I'll be having those, too!
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #92 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 25 Mar 08 13:55
    

Will you be giving us info about how to sign up and participate?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #93 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Tue 25 Mar 08 17:29
    
Absolutely.  Of course, no need to wait for me, you can just sign up
and start noodling now, I'll give times/location info later on.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #94 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Tue 25 Mar 08 17:55
    

Is there a URL?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #95 of 101: Ian Betteridge (ianb) Wed 26 Mar 08 07:26
    
Sign up at http://secondlife.com/
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #96 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Wed 26 Mar 08 08:25
    
Like I say in the book, I definitely recommend waiting to go in with
people you know who already have their SL sea legs; otherwise, you're
likely to get overwhelmed and confused.  
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #97 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 26 Mar 08 14:11
    

How do we find those people?
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #98 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Fri 28 Mar 08 17:31
    
Well there's at least several WELLians who are active SL users and/or
use it for teaching, etc.  Beginning with the guy who got me involved,
(hlr).
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #99 of 101: Linda Castellani (castle) Sat 29 Mar 08 02:08
    

I was listening to Talk of the Nation, Science Friday this morning and I 
heard Ira Flatow say something about joining the group on Science Friday 
Island to talk about the show.
  
inkwell.vue.322 : W. James Au, 'The Making of Second Life'
permalink #100 of 101: Wagner James Au (wjamesau) Sat 29 Mar 08 11:42
    
Yeah, you can listen to Science Friday streamed into their SL
headquarters, and IM him questions.  They started it last year, and
apparently they liked the feedback enough to keep it running.  It's
still surreal to hear Ira saying something like, "This next question
comes from Second Life. Coconut Underhill asks..."
  

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