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Archive for September, 2008

An alt is an “alternate account” in SL – where there is no connection between your original identity (for example, me as “Landsend Korobase”) and the new name you set up (for example, me as.. yeah right, like I’d tell everyone my alts..). That is, unless you choose to tell people who you are, which typically goes against the reason for setting up an alt in the first place. And this is what this first alt post is about:The reasons for setting up alts.

The Trickster. The trickster sets up their alt just to play jokes on their friends, to see them squirm, or to grief other people without consequences. Often involves maliciousness. Funny and clever tricks can be done on the original account without need of an alt. I am not a fan of this use of alts.

The Escapist: The person using an alt to escape from their friends and from the consequences for their actions. Sometimes they use an alt to escape from a stalker. I am not a fan of this use of alts either – if someone is stalking you you need to tell Linden Labs (LL) about them, or directly confront the person, in public if need be, so they realise such behaviour is unacceptable. Running away, not the best solution.

The Worker: The worker is one of the uses of alts that I “approve” of – using an account purely for work purposes so you can relax on your other account when you need some downtime, and using the alt to help organize the different commitments and projects you have going on, seems fine. As long as the alt isn’t being used to escape the bad reputation they created with a previous buisness venture, which belongs under “The Escapist” above really.

The Role-player (RP): The alt is used for strictly character playing in Role-Playing worlds, and the person doesn’t want to otherwise be bothered when they are “out of character” by people in the RPing world. Or they want to RP in multiple sims and need to keep their identites separate for coherency. This seems fine to me too.

The Experimenter: The person who wants to genuinely know what it’s like to be a woman instead of a man (for whatever reason), or to be Gorean, or a furry, etc, and doesn’t otherwise feel openly comfortable about their main group of friends knowing about their experimentations. This has got to be OK, SL is all about experimentation, but it gets a bit tricky. I wouldn’t be impressed if a friend of mine used an alt to try to interact with me in such experimentations, it would be highly deceitful, instead they should ideally go live their experimentations with other people. The “issue” of men playing as women and vice versa is a rich area for discussion that I’ll be coming back to in another post.

I’m sure there are more reasons for using alts than I have covered here, but these are the primary uses, and alts are prevalent in SL so it’s important to try to figure out if you want one and why, and how you feel about friends potentially deceiving you by using an alt with you. I’m generally negative towards the use of alts yet I have 3, and my uses of those 3 fit into 2 of the above categories. I’ll get around to saying what I use them for and my experiences with them another day. So many things to write and so little time!!

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Time Intensity

There is something unusual about SL that makes sense the more you contemplate it. It’s what I’m going to call “time intensity”. In SL a week feels the equivalent to about a month in RL. This is true of friendships and relationships in particular.

It’s very easy to strike up what feels like an intense and genuine friendship in a matter of an hour, to be seduced in a matter of two hours, to fall in love in a matter of days. Hell, I even know people who got SL married in less than a week of meeting each other, let alone partnering which is done at the flick of a wrist by some. There’s a lot of reasons for this: The lack of RL issues that get in the way – looks, smell, hell you don’t even have to pause to eat, you can type right through those mouthfuls, and the fact that you can spend excessive amounts of time together because you’re already at home anyway and probably winding down for the day, with hours ahead of you to fill that many other people would just be using to watch tv. It’s pure personality. Which of course is also why some people are instantly annoying, not everyone’s got a interesting or compatible personality.

Of course the other side of this intensity is the question of just how real it is: Is it a meaningful friendship – will you ever actually talk to each other again or just sit on each other’s friend lists forever more (which happens a lot). And of stronger consequence, is the “love” real, especially when you’ve never met each other or even seen each other’s RL pictures yet. And again, that topic – SL love – is one I’ll come back to later, since it is both fascinating, and often consequential for people’s RLs.

In my experience, the really meaningful SL friendships take as long as RL friendships do to develop. Looking back, the people I care about and genuinely consider friends, are the people I’ve known for months. In fact, I’m going to go one step further here and say because of the intensity of SL, the deception that occurs so often about who people really are in RL, that I trust them less than people I meet in RL and therefore the real friendships probably take even longer to establish than they do in RL! Woah, I think I just went round in a  funky circle, you’re doing well if you stayed seated 😀

Oooh, and now, in the process of writing this I have reached a new conclusion (welcome to my stream of consciousness :p). The fact that relationships in SL last maybe 3 weeks where similar RL relationship lengths amount to 3 months, is not “just” a reflection of the time intensity of SL, it is also, and probably more so, a reflection of the lack of genuineness, honesty and information involved from the outset, which is also a natural part of SL and ties in to the time factor.

My head hurts >.<

Conclusion: SL is not like RL, time gets muddly, it’s easy to pass hours in SL and think it’s only being minutes in RL, and it’s easy to feel close to someone you’ve never met and probably never will meet. This SL existence thing is tricky! *Goes off to get some Panadol*

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Funny Photoshop Dude

Ok, it’s very likely I’m the last person to discover this guy and his Photoshop tips, but my god has he got the funnies down. He even makes my husband laugh! Now as far as helpfulness goes he’s not high on the scale, especially since I use Gimp rather than Photoshop, and even more so cause I keep getting distracted by the storyline and forget to pay attention to the lesson. But if you haven’t checked this guy out, now is the time. I should warn you though, don’t check it out if you’re easily offended or dislike foul talking ^^

http://www.mydamnchannel.com/Big_Fat_Brain/You_Suck_at_Photoshop__Season_1/YouSuckatPhotoshop1_398.aspx

Enjoy!!

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Within every SL profile is a section called “Picks”. This primarily exists for you to add your favourite places, so other people and you yourself can easily tansport to them. But it’s very common pratice for people to turn them into picks where they advertise their services, or far more commonly, their friends – the much dreaded, much loved, Friends’ Tabs.

Now on the surface of it this is great, it’s a public way to say “I adore these people, they make my SL worthy and I’m proud to call them my friends”. And honestly, I get a neat little buzz whenever I find my name mentioned in someone’s friend’s tab, an even bigger buzz if I have a whole tab dedicated just to me, and a “woah” if I’m the only friend’s tab they have at all!

For all it’s neat wonderment and huggly feelings, there is of course the down side: When you find out a person you thought was a close friend has their closest friends covered in a tab and you’re not there, it feels not that great. And when you highlight someone as very worthy and important in your own profile but you’re nowhere to be seen in theirs, also a weird uncomfortable feeling. This is a common experience in SL – these “not nice” feelings: I’ve seen friendships threatened because someone was over-looked, I’ve seen fights break out about it, and people speculate about “false friendships” and “secret love affairs” and “woah what’s going on there!” over what they’ve found in friends’ tabs in profiles.

We even have an expression for the people who constantly read and speculate on profile picks – the “profile stalker”  ^^

So at this point in time, my profile picks has one tab dedicated to my closest friends, and it needs more detail and updating, in fact I constantly update it because I know I have a few profile stalkers. I like my personal profile stalkers though – they aren’t malicious, they just seem to care about what’s going on in my life. I’m lucky I haven’t been attacked about what’s in my profile for a good few months now! Believe me, been there, felt the wrath of that.

I remember the days when I had no idea I had a profile, and didn’t know how to check out other people’s! But you better believe, if I meet you in-world, sooner or later I’ll be right-clicking you and having a good nosey. But only cause I care :p

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One of the most wonderful, interesting, and at times frightening things, about SL, is how closely most people end up associating with their avatars. I have a lot to say about this so I’m suspecting it’s going to end up being done in multiple posts.

I associate strongly with Landsend (or “Lands” as I refer to myself principally). When you bump her, hug her, dance with her, it feels a certain level of real. When you compliment her I feel the compliment is for me, in some sense beyond the fact that I put her together. And, of course, when you cage her, attack or insult her, I feel that too in the same way.

How did this close level of association come about, what are its causes and effects, and can I step back from her…? These are some of the many questions I intend to ask and answer in these posts.

The way I feel when I’m in my alts is different still, and I think that shows a key to the issue. For those of you not familiar with alts – I just mean “alternate accounts” – me but in different names. And you better believe there’s a lot to say about alts too!

The issue of avatar association comes up when taking SL pictures too, which I love doing and do a lot of. It’s at its height when I’m taking pictures of nudes and people act prudish, or feel uncomfortable being naked in front of me. Now I do my best to make them feel at ease, I always smudge out certain bits and ask them if they want their name linked to the picture. Even some professional SL models stress about this, and it’s their job!

When I’m in pictures I disassociate from Lands – I know art is art. It took me a while to reach this point admittedly, but the more pictures I took and the more adventurous I got with my themes the easier it was to do. I draw a line at showing explicitly sexual acts in my pictures (at this stage), but that’s a personal choice about what sort of SL photographer I am, not a reflection of my prudishness. And yet before and after a picture I slip easily back into closely associating with Lands.

Having said that, my closeness to Lands overall has lessened in the past 2 months, and there are many reasons for that which I will talk about another time. See why I’m going to be using multiple posts 😀

So that’s all for now, just an introduction to what I think is one of the most interesting aspects of having a second life.

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SL Models

As an SL Photographer I’ve worked with a wide range of people, and in my time I’ve come to appreciate the skills of a good SL model. Which sounds silly, right? Like come on, they’re just standing there, in a skin that isn’t their own in any sense that we’d admire and appreciate in RL (no gym time or throwing-up went into their body shape), so what am I on about..?

A good SL model, in my humble opinion and experience, has 2 main areas they need to perfect: One, they need to have the proper personal traits – punctuality to shoots, patience (which is a biggie), ability to communicate clearly and understand directions, and a pleasant enough personality that you don’t overly mind being stuck with a camera on them for what can be a long time. Both the photographer and the model need to be relaxed, professional and open-minded at a shoot for it to work well. The second area is the look of course, which is not as simple as you think it might be – “buy an expensive skin and shape, finito”. Yes, skin, to a large degree, can be perfect off the shelf, but every shape I’ve ever seen or tried from a store requires modification before I’d consider it photogenic. And I’m not just talking personal aesthetics here, I mean proportions, angles, and especially every detail of the face. Now you can dismiss that aspect if you like – as my personal foibles. But then there’s the model’s range of personal hair, clothes, shoes etc, and their ability to find what’s required in their inventory at short notice! A tidy (or well known) inventory is a must!! Now again, this aspect holds less weight if the model is being required merely to wear what they are given at the time. Though in my experience and understanding, the chances that they will not have to access their inventory for anything at all beyond what is given them, is pretty low.

Today, I was taking nude shots of one of my most special SL friends – Simmi Althouse *commences drooling*. She’s an absolute sweetheart, and it was very generous of her to let me take the pictures. I love taking nude shots more than any other kind of shot but many people associate so extremely closely with their avatar that getting them to strip is like, well, like hard dude. Why do I like nudes? Cause I love skin tone, lighting on skin, and body curves, and I love trying to hit that realism level. Now Simmi, I strongly suspect, does associate with her avatar much the same as the rest of us do (I’ll write on that “association” topic at some point in this blog), but she doesn’t have hang-ups about nudity, she’s comfortable with herself (and so she should be, she’s geogeous in both worlds). Which all up, brings me to this mighty conclusion:

Simmi is the perfect SL model (in the actuality sense, not the “she’s a paid model on someone’s books” sense). Patient, beautiful, fully loaded inventory, and did I mention patient..? She’s kindly agreed to let me use her as a model whenever I like, so expect many more shots of her to appear on my Flickr. The shot I’ve attached to this article is just a sliver of one of the 4 pictures I did today, please do link through and have a proper look at this beautiful creature ❤

[Note – you will not be able to see the nude pictures I do of Simmi or anyone else unless you are a member of Flickr, since they are rated as “moderate” by me]

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Almost a year ago, a wonderful pub called The Three Lions, closed in SL. This mattered. A lot. It left at least a hundred people feeling lost, people who almost everyday logged into SL to spend hours there, with the people there, now had nowhere to go. A fair chunk of them stopped, or as good as stopped, coming to SL at all in the months that followed. One of the managers of Three Lions, some dude called Prad Prathivi, was kind enough to let a goodly chunk of us go round to his SL home as a place to hang out together and stay in touch. A place to listen to music, dance and have the occasional drama ^^

Eventually him and Kendra Fallon and Bailey Longcloth were good enough to set up another bar for us to congregate at – The Crown and Pearl. I still go there everyday. Literally, everyday. If you wanted to run into me that would be the place to do it.

Now there are a fair few lost souls still, people who left SL after Three Lions closed and drop in-world at times to see if it’s back or anything in SL is worth their time since it closed. I’m honoured that a number of those people IM me to find out what’s going on now, where the old crew is, and what’s the best replacement for the loss. This used to happen quite frequently – the searching and querying IMs – and of course I always do my best to help them feel wanted and like they have a place to go that’s worthy of their time. And The Crown and Pearl is that place. As recently as yesterday I got another IM asking along the lines of “where do I go now..?”, which I think just empahises how thrown people were when Lions closed – that people would stay away from SL so very long thinking it wouldn’t be worth their time anymore.

I’ll keep being a Lost and Found service for as long as I’m needed, I’m just happy and lucky there’s a place worth directing them to go 🙂

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