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Archive for October, 2008

In RL, I grew up feeling under-protected at home, and over-protected from the real world. I spent a good chunk of the years after I left home trying to deal with the consequences of this; trying to get the balance right for myself and often goofing it up along the way. As an adult, with my own child, I’m careful to not repeat the mistakes – I am quite (possibly over) protective of my son at a personal level – making sure the people in his life are positive influences and will never harm him. I also try to expose him to lots of the real world – take him new places to do and experience new things. I don’t always get it right but I consciously try, and these attitudes towards the people I care about show themselves in SL too.

In SL I try to protect my friends from people who they say have harmed them, and from people I think will harm them. Doing so gives me a warm glow, makes me feel good about myself in a very real way. Sometimes they mention outright that, for example, they are in situation that someone is stalking them or harassing them and can I do something about it from a security perspective – being able to ban that person from the place we all hang out, The Crown & Pearl. I investigate the situation if need be, try to smooth things over if possible, and take action if required. I love making people’s lives better, especially the people close to me, I’m quite maternal in that way and always have been. I also try to encourage them to try new things, take chances in RL, try new things in SL, expand their horizons experientially.

In SL there are no barriers to me being able to protect the ones I care for: In RL I am limited to a large extent by my height and strength – I’m not exactly deficient in either but I’m not going to win any physical encounters against men. In SL we are all comparatively equal: I don’t care if you’re a huge burly man in RL, in SL I can still mute you and stop you intimidating me and the people I care about, and not be afraid that  there are going to be physical consequences. My mind is as sharp as pretty much any other I’ve encountered, and that is our key tool for dealing with conflict in SL.

So if you’re ever at Crown & Pearl and someone is harassing or stalking you to the point of making you want to leave; rather than leaving, just tell me. We are highly reluctant to ban people there but we have a  pretty good track record for smoothing over conflicts and making people feel safe and wanted and happy. If I can help create a safe enjoyable environment at least one place in the world – even if only in the virtual world – then that makes me feel all sorts of wonderful.

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Watching the Open Space Sims drama is like watching a whirlwind and trying hard not to get sucked in to it. I get the issue – severe price hikes based on poor grounds and reasoning. And there is no doubt that’s bad practice. Ok, got it. But it’s what’s happened in response to it that has made me cock my head to the side and say “huh”.

What started off as a rather disappointing announcement by Linden Labs has turned into this, just as a taste: At the lighter end, the humourous attention-raising approach http://www.pradprathivi.com/latest/wrong ; some helpful and thoughtful suggestions here and there as well http://baileylongcloth.wordpress.com/2008/10/30/debate-continues/ ; reflections on what happened leading up to Linden Lab’s decision and how it fits into a history of bad calls by Linden Labs – and you’ll notice in this one you gets a heads-up of just how many posts and groups were starting to set up in response to the issue  http://raulcrimson.wordpress.com/2008/10/28/openspace-sims-another-linden-mistake/ ; accusations of effectively Linden Labs lying – with evidence of ulterior motives http://www.vintfalken.com/raymond-conspiracy-theory-is-ll-gaming-us/ ; and, of course, protest groups with serious infighting leading to dissolution of those groups then setting up of rival groups, with what appears to be major misrepresentations of people’s motives for their actions in regards to those groups *takes a breath* http://foo.secondlifeherald.com/slh/2008/10/vryl-valkyrie-n.html .

From a human-behaviour-observing point-of-view I find this all highly fascinating, and a bit tiring too; it can be draining to constantly be reading such high level of emotion. I have some pretty strong philosophical based views on what Linden Labs did in terms of economic theory, governance, and a bit to say about contractual rights too, but right now I’m just going to keep those to myself. I would be sharing those views from a somewhat dispassionate sideline since I don’t own land in SL. Yes their decision about Open Space sims will effect me because of those who do own such land, but I’m not directly effected and it will be relatively easy for me to adapt to any changing SL realities in response to the issues. So for now I’m just going to keep my hand out of this particular fire. I don’t think anyone would attack my views, hell they’d be very likely to whole-heartedly embrace them under the current climate, and god knows I’m not afraid of standing up calmly and rationally for any views I put forward, or being persuaded to view the world differently by a competent argument based on sound premises. But I don’t have the time or passion to get involved with this particular issue and the heated responses at this point; my RL is on overload and just trying to keep up with the constantly changing situation in regards to Open Space Sims is sucking up what little on-line time I have left.

In particular, I don’t want to encourage people in-world to send me anymore notecards, links to petitions, (in particular I keep being given the same notecards and links over and over *sigh*), or start up extensive conversations with me about it. I log into SL to escape and relax and have some fun, and I do whatever I can to help other people achieve these goals too. And this issue meets none of those criteria. So I’m just going to leave my good and influential friends to battle this one out and instead quietly support them with happy thoughts and distractions in the breaks they take from fighting the good fight, since that’s probably the most I have to offer them right now anyway.

At least this whole topic has given me rich ground for future posts: I’m going to be discussing why I’ve never become a paying member of Second Life for starters, and around about now that decision is really starting to feel vindicated.

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I’ve often heard it said by people trying to make me feel better when others steal my ideas, my looks or whatever it may be, that “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery”. Sweet as that may be, I still want recognition damn it! If someone decides I had a stroke of genius and wants to use it for themselves, then hey, great, inspiring people is fun and worthy. But when they do it without any reference to me in any place whatsoever I get a bit hmmm, and when they do it without even saying to me privately “hey, thanks, that was neat, I’m going to totally use that!” I get slightly louder with my hmmmms.

Just to clarify, I’m not talking about thieving my art work or verbatim postings, because that wouldn’t be just hmm-worthy, that would be theft and deserves an entire blog post to itself. And a law suit. We like law suits. And I’m not talking about people who are mildly influenced by things I do and find their own original slant on it, because that’s simply the process of creativity. I’m talking about the people who pass my notions or concepts off as their own own without any attempt at recognizing my original input. This is particularly irritating when it leads people to think my own idea lacked originality or was copied from that other person since they lack context about who did what first – it undercuts my efforts and makes me look like a sheep rather than an original person and thinker.

When it happens I hardly ever complain out loud though, what’s the point? They haven’t done anything illegal, they’ve just crossed a point of politeness essentially. And if you do complain people get defensive of the person you’re complaining about “aww, they’re just struggling to come up with their own ideas, give them a break” or “aww, are you sure that idea which is exactly like your own with extremely minor deviation which came about immediately after yours was presented or expressed, is really taken from you..?”, or that pet favourite “aww, they must like you and think you’re neat, how flattering.” Psh.

So I just suck it up and grumble ever so quietly and tend to think less of these people. Not simply because of lack of originality – we all struggle a little bit now and then for inspiration, I’m sure – but because they refuse to acknowledge, neither privately nor publicly, where that immediate and direct inspiration came from. Taking the credit for themselves and leaving me feeling unappreciated and a tad used.

Perhaps they are unaware of how I have impacted on them, perhaps. Maybe. Possibly. But when it keeps happening over and over ya start to wonder don’t cha. Yes you do.

>.<

(And don’t ask me who I’m grrr at cause I won’t tell you, for the reasons outlined above. I just had to get that off my chest. Chest cleared. Amen.)

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Dancing with Stoo many months ago

Dancing in SL is achieved through various methods, and as usual I have far too much to say on each type and the “hidden messages” involved in a simple button click or avatar placement. The one type I want to talk about today though is couple dancing pose-balls.

Something so fun, so pretty, so innocent… Well, depends doesn’t it. I couldn’t tell you how many relationships I have witnessed hit a huge hurdle because someone catches their significant other dancing with someone else. Whether this bothers them or not depends on their mutual understanding of what they expect from each other and how much dancing means to them as a couple. But even when there aren’t strict “rules” about “you only dance with me” there still seem to major issues when they catch their partner hot-footing it with someone else. Even worse if it’s on a slow-dance set, with those close intimate turns and kisses. The “they were the only dance balls left!” excuse never goes down well.

I’ve also completely lost count of how many guys have asked me for a dance who have got angry or pissy or rude when I turn them down. There’s a reason I turn them down, and it’s closely related to the explanation above about couples. In my experience, if you accept a dance offer from a guy (and sometimes from girls depending on their orientation), they almost inevitably think it means you’ve given them permission to have intimate chatter in IM through-out the dance, and even worse they think it means they have some claim over you so in the future they can assume you will agree to dancing with them and get “suspicious” if they find you dancing with someone else. I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised when a recent freak had unilaterally decided I was his girlfriend after dancing with him obviously one too many times!

So nowadays to avoid the confusion, and so no one thinks I’m stealing their partner, I pretty much turn down every couple dance offer, with a few very limited exceptions. Which is sad, because I miss it. I love dancing in SL: on animations, chims and pose balls, but the couple pose ball sets create so many rumours and troubles that it’s something I’ve had to learn to live without. It’s a funny virtual world we live in innit.

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When I first joined SL I had no appreciation of how much of my life it would become, and I definitely had no awareness of how much my SL persona would come to exist in webpages external to the game. I thought Landsend Korobase would be a SL-only entity, it never crossed my mind that I would end up using the name to do art-works posted on Flickr, or to write blog entires in WordPress. There are many other sites I’ve considered extending her existence to as well – I have a KoinUp account and I’ve considered that Plurk thing, but my hands are full already with Flickr and WordPress, and keeping up not only my contributions but following my friends’ contributions to those sites as well.

In each extension of the SL persona and world – pictures, blogging etc – there is a different community feel. For example, in Flickr there are a lot of intense and emotional personalities, in-groups, and also a mafia-style separation at times between what group of artists or friends hold your loyalty. I actively try to keep my SL life separate from my Flickr life, by which I mean I never seek out people I’ve met in Flickr, in world. If I run into them so be it, but I do not assume any base of friendship or closeness based solely on our Flickr interactions. Appreciating someone’s art is one thing, but there is no automatic connection between lovely art and a lovely person.

Blogging is an interesting one as well. An increasing number of my friends have taken to actively blogging lately, which I think is awesome, especially on days like today when I didn’t make it in-world but still want to know what’s going on and how they are. I like the blogs that give insights to the person writing it, and not ones that are dominantly commercial or “today I rode a horse” style. I like to read emotion, I like to see what the person doesn’t necessarily or easily reveal in their daily SL interactions. I try to deliver that myself in my own blog and am reasonably happy with how mine is progressing.

I’m yet to get a good feel for the blogging community, though I am aware of references from things that get said in blogs weaving their way into SL discussions and emotions, and the growing importance of their impact on my SL existence: I read blogs, I respond, I post my own thoughts, the wheel turns and we all endlessly – intentionally or otherwise – feed off each other; my daily life now involves posting and reading my friends posts, how can it not impact on SL life? Flickr art also reflects and feeds into SL life – pictures reveal who you spend time with, who you care about (whether you intended to convey that or not), the places you go, and very often your emotions.

These other sites are fun to participate in, and I’m glad I gave them a go. I’m a trial and error girl though and I will not be taking up every new external-to-SL-but-related-to-SL trend. Not just because I don’t have the time, but because there is also a lot of un-necessary double-up in the function of these sites. And perhaps most importantly, the thinner I spread myself, the less quality each of these endeavours will get from me. Anyone who follows my Flickr will know my submissions there have proportionally lessened in relation to my posts here. And anyone who followed my SL presence would have noticed a huge drop-off in my time in-world when I first joined Flickr too. It’s about time managment and priorities, and these things will even out, and I’ll multitask better, my posts will be written faster, etc.

One thing I always try to do is whenever I discover something new and exciting that I think has enhanced my SL experience, I share it with my existing SL friends and openly encourage them to partake as well. Cause at the end of the day SL is all about your friends, and if I can make their lives better I will. Pictures and posting isn’t for everyone, but trying new things is. And these extensions are all part of the rich tapestry of a fully functioning SL life. I love how my SL keeps growing and expanding, and can’t wait to see what turns up next ^^

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Humour in SL

One of the most attractive things in a person, is a healthy and original sense of humour. This is true of RL as well as SL, but in SL it ranks very high – possibly at the top – of factors that make me notice a person and become friends with them. All of my closest friends in SL have been people who could make me laugh until it hurt, and all the people I simply never became friends with were the excessively serious or grumpy or frankly simple folk who couldn’t even bring a twitch to the corner of my mouth, let alone tears to my eyes.

Through someone’s humour I see the strongest glimpses of who they are: For example, what someone finds funny can reveal their prejudices, what jokes they tell can reveal their intelligence, and what jokes they understand can reveal their experiences.

It’s often been said that when you spell out something that is meant to be humourous or analyse it too deeply, it loses it’s humour. Well, yes and no. Yes, if someone’s just told a joke and then is asked to explain it it ruins it generally because of lost timing as much as anything, though this situation can be saved by a fast thinker turning the situation itself of asking for an explanation, into something funny. However, having sat a post-graduate philosophy course on humour, I have to disagree that studying it ruins it. Rather, trying to understand the different types of humour and as I said above, realising what humour reveals about us, actually enhances very greatly the experience of it. So I shant be apologizing for analysing it here :p

SL offers up opportunities for humour that you can’t get in RL: Jokes about prims, profiles and the use of capitals just for starters. An excellent example of these sorts of considerations is regularly found in Prad’s blog, the most recent post he’s done is a case in point, see it for yourself: http://www.pradprathivi.com/latest/10-easy-ways-to-annoy-sl-residents .

At the same time SL removes the opportunity for a lot of jokes you can get at in RL – such as play on words that sound the same, the use of intonation, sound effects and accents. There are ways to still try to get those styles of humour into SL but they are not “natural” there, they require adaption.

The experience of SL humour is part of what makes people love the place so much, and yet struggle to convey that joy to others. Many times I’ve tried to explain SL jokes and situations to my husband, and he ends up looking me straight in the eye and saying “that’s not funny” (which is kinda funny in itself – I wouldn’t have married the man if he wasn’t frequently hilarious to me). Understanding and taking part in SL humour is part of what gives that somewhat unique sense of community you find in some places like Crown & Pearl, and I’ll say without hesitation that a good day or a good event in SL is one that comes with laughter. Without it even the best planned and most important SL events, simply wouldn’t be worth it to me.

So next time you’re in SL, and someone laughs or makes you laugh, stop and think about it, just for a little while. Why did you laugh, what does it say about you, what does it say about the person you’re interacting with. You might just be surprised at what you find out.

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I’ve spoken about Crown & Pearl in many of my posts. It’s a bar like no other in SL, and to me that’s not just because of it’s unique design, or the talented DJs, it’s about the regulars: The people who turn up everyday and make you glad you do too. One of the special things about our regs is we’re all very open and welcoming to new people, we want everyone to feel wanted there and enjoy themselves as much as we do. Which is a too rare thing in my SL-pub experiences. There are endless things I could comment on about the culture and atmosphere of Crown, but today there’s one special aspect that I want to talk about: The Women of Crown.

There is a sort of core group of women at Crown, it’s “membership” and numbers shifts and changes of course, but there appears to be a constant among us: The way we joke with and look out for each other. So often women in RL and SL fight over men, or bitch behind each others backs, and are never really “friends” in a meaningful sense. Sure we get some of the occasional nasties at Crown, but the dominating and long-lasting trend is we have each other’s backs, like a community feeling to the place. Along the same lines it makes sense that a bunch of people at Crown end up being “related” to each other in SL families, which is definitely a topic I will return to.

That other key component I mentioned was the way we joke with each other. If you ever visit Crown at night (and you should), you’ll find us women all flirting with each other like mad, and loving it. It’s playful and light-hearted and down right hilarious a lot of the time. Some of us are bi-sexual, but somehow it still never gets taken the wrong way, as it often does if you flirt like that with men in SL. We have plenty of men around who get the flirting too, but most of the sexual banter does seem to fall between the females.

Now there were two recent comments made in SL which got me thinking about this topic. The first was the other night when Kimber said how neat it was that instead of fighting over men us ladies were more interested in comparing our RL boobs with each other, which I thought was a good summary of the mood there.

The second comment was one made a while back by someone who had said we were, and I quote “pseudo-lesbians”. Now I don’t know if it was meant in a disparaging way, I suspect then was a bit of judgment going on there, but it kinda ruffled my feathers. To assume that we are not lesbians or bisexual and just playing around was the initial assumption there – believe it or not some women are actually attracted to other women. I know, shock horror right *sighs*. But more so the point is women don’t get carried away when they flirt with each other – try flirting with a man sometime and see his mind start to tick over.. “maybe I really stand a chance here, maybe she means it, yeah I’m sure she means it, I’m gonna score, I’m gonna score..”. Women as a general rule don’t seem to get carried away like that. Not because we’re not lesbians, but because we realise that a lot of the time flirting is just fun and funny and we know where to draw the line. Well, except me, I’ll push the line sometimes, but what I mean is I know it’s just play-time as do the other women at the Crown.

There are plenty of very open and very secret and plenty in-between relationships between people at Crown, as there are anywhere. But as a general rule we all feel comfortable playing with each other in open chat. It is a comfortable laid-back atmosphere that I’ve never felt anywhere else except Three Lions which is a pub that closed before Crown started up (Lions tried – unsuccessfully – to resurrect a few months back).

It’s hard to explain the awesomeness of Crown to someone’s who’s never been there. So tell ya what, next time you’re in world, IM me and ask me for a TP so you can come and see for yourself, and I’ll introduce you to the beauty of the Women of Crown 🙂

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