Wednesday, June 9, 2010

When men were ... err... men

Damn. I could have used that sort of money – a cool €8.8 million. That’s the amount European researchers have received for doing an experiment which has be running, albeit haphazardly, for years in SL. The aim of the research: to place males in the bodies of female avatars and find out what they experience.

Professor Melvyn Slater and his team conducted an experiment in which 24 male volunteers were given female avatars who were then placed in a virtual environment. One group had a sort of mouse view virtual reality, while the others experienced their feminine side slightly offset, over the shoulder.

The press release state: “Unsurprisingly, the 'body swapping' effect was more pronounced with the former. In some cases, the experience was so effective that the volunteers gasped and flinched when they appeared to be threatened; the researchers reported a drop in heart rate, a typical reaction to a perceived attack.” I’ve not read enough of the report to say if “extremely fondling of body parts” was higher in one group or the other.

The researchers believe that the tests show “that if you make people believe their bodies are different, it has an impact on the way they think and behave. This means, for instance, that with the technology we can experience what it is like to be a member of the opposite sex or someone with acute physical differences, such as an obese person.” O for one, have had the same experience – and would be happy to reveal what it feels like to be a dragon escort.
For €8.8 million, I’d even do it again.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

History of Second Life in 100 Objects: The stop animation red rose

The ‘StopAll Animations Red Rose v0.02’ consists of a slender green stalk, adorned with small thorns and crowned with bright red petals. The version I now hold in my hands was made by Logan Bauer and is comprised of eight prims. While not exceedingly beautiful, nor useful (the animation stopping can be done using the feature built into the viewer), it has a deep cultural importance to Second Life.

Take, for example, the surprising lack of rose sellers in SL’s romantic venues. In the real world we would be expected to be eventually confronted with this sort; thrusting a limp Rosa roxburghii at us while managing to say ‘if you want to sleep with her tonight mate, you’d better buy one of these’ without uttering a word. They’re nonexistence is due, of course, to the rose being free.

At the same time, the subsist totus alacritas rosa rutilus – if my Latin doesn’t fail me – does fulfill the role of being a gift. With all the connotations of gift giving, of course (see rose seller’s silent sales pitch above). How often have you passed this rose on to someone, only to find yourself just a while later enaged in passionate sex with the person to whom you offered it? Okay, I never have, but that’s just me, I suspect. History often requires a bit of guesswork.

There is, of course, also the question of cultural norms when dropping this rose into someone’s inventory of the same sex. While it is fairly easy for men to pass it to women, and women to men, or women to women even, for a man to pass it to a man just feels mildly camp. Which is why I ripped the script out of mine, and put it in an object called ‘StopAll Animations Playboy Magazine’. Actually, I haven’t – but I will now that I thought of it.

A History of Second Life in 100 Objects: The Intro

Plagiary, someone said, is the highest form of flattery.
In fact, let me restate that. Plagiary, I have always said, is the highest form of flattery. Those of you familiar with the BBC program ‘A History of the World in 100 Objects’ will know that these new, sporadic postings entitled ‘A History of Second Life in 100 Objects’ is not really original. So be it. In the BBC program, British Museum director Neil MacGregor rummages through the back rooms of the museum, plucking items out – apparently at random – and tells their tale. A bit like a fuddy-duddy old pensioner who has had a port too many and is afraid you’ll be heading for the door if he stops finding things to show you.
Alas, one of the most delightful things about the program, and one I cannot plagiarize in mere writing, is the terrifically posh voices the participants in the radio show use. Macgreor himself has that nasal play on all his words that makes them seem to coagulate in the back reaches of throat before they come out in a mucky consonant clot. A bit like this: ‘We a loo’in a a fun spe saw min.’ (We are looking at a fine specimen…) I can’t be bothered trying to write like that. I’m just stealing the title in the hope that it’ll give me loads of cross-references, allowing me to become rich and famous while riding on the coattails of the BBC.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Spaced out

I just got a notecard in SL that I haven’t been coming to my astrology classes and the sender was wondering why. I was wondering why too, because as far as I know, I’ve never been to astrology classes either in SL or RL. Maybe they know something about me I don’t, but you’d expect that from a decent astrologer.
On closer reading I discover it’s nothing more than a bit of advertising. And it’s spooky in the way only astrologers can be and make you wish they wouldn’t walk around with those sharp crystals or pointy pyramids.
My life's mission to to alert you and everyone to the magnificence of Astrology's ability to show your connection to the the Universe, to light your Path (whatever it may be) and to illuminate your Profile, Events, and interpersonal meaning,” the notecard states. That is Very nice of Them, I think, though I Wonder why they use all the Capitals. And I’m not entirely sure I want my profile or events illuminated, and at no extent my interpersonal meaning.
Remember, Astrology isn't just about "All is One," or "we know everything already." Astrology is practical too. Astrology helps it to be possible to "Really know" because it's in your nitty-gritty and current truth and disruption.” I almost want that to just stand there without comment, but I can’t. Astrology is in my nitty gritty? And in my current truth? And my disruption? I can’t help but think that astrology, pardon, Astrology is for confused people – and that has me more than confused.
Astrology reveals your unconscious game plan (made before your current incarnation)…” OMG, they know my previous ave, they’re on to me!
It walks in dilligent delight to show you yourself…” … as alliterations are awesomely added to advance aural assimilation without accepting any aid to apply. Or mean anything.
It goes on like this for a few more lines. Or to be more exact: It Continuously comments on Cosmic Contexts.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Now on Facebook!

Yes, become my friend, win prizes, amaze your parents! Link to the left in the sidebar!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Checking out the chicks

I don’t have kids and I’ve always found it mildly annoying to be around friends that do. Suddenly everything begins to rotate around the little blighters. Out goes the PS3, in comes the crib. Banished are all the sharp objects to make room for an odd collection of balls and teddy bears that litter the floor. Kids are, in a word, obtrusive – they take over your flat or your home, laying claim to it all with their grubby little hands.

I have to keep that in mind at the moment.

I logged on to SL to… errr…. well… clear event invitations and I just rushed…. I mean meandered over to check out how my three chicks were doing. Lucy, peeping away happily. Check. Linda? Strutting around on her little legs. Check. Eugene? Eugene? EUGENE!!!!!!

He was lost, gone, carried away by some stray cat or evil hearted hawk. I rushed around my land much like a chicken with its head cut off. If I had an animation “sit down and weep” I might have felt like using it. Eugene… cut down in the prim or prime of his life…. So young…. Sniff.

I finally found him; he’d fallen into the pool but didn’t seem the worse for it. But he was hunger so I gently nudged him to the feed bowl.

Then I rushed… errrr.. meandered off to get a coop for the guys. Okay, it’s a blight on my land right now and fits in, well, about as well as a grey ugly chicken coop fits in a heretofore lush and romantic tropical island. I’m now convincing myself that I’m not doing it for them. It’s all about me. Really.

Maybe I should get them some toys?

Monday, August 3, 2009

Ain’t nobody here but us chickens

I am not one to mindlessly follow hysterical trends – hell, I got my first pair of bell bottom jeans in 1979, I still think Katie Price is an It-Girl. I might even go so far to say that I was surprised to hear that the reports of Mark Twain’s demise were not greatly exaggerated. So I’d not be that astonished were I to discover that everyone has already heard about Sion Chickens.

For those of you still wearing bell bottoms let me briefly describe them: They are virtual chickens in SL that hatch, eat, grow up to become roosters or hens and have sex. Actually, I’m not so sure about the last bit, but this being SL I suspect they do. My friend Bavid has aptly depicted them as the tamagotchis of SL. Tamgotchis are the latest craze from Japan… no, wait, I think I’m a bit late on that one as well. Just google it if you don’t know what a tamagotchi is.

There is, of course, something amazingly peculiar about having a virtual pet in a virtual world. Peculiar, but apparently also very persuasive. Just how popular the little balls of feathers have become can be seen by visiting the main store of the creator. I haven’t seen a line like that since I accidently visited Neva Neva.

I am, of course, not falling for this mass hysteria. But I do know I have a duty to stay informed and in the loop. So, I purchased a starter pack (three eggs and four portions of chicken feed) for scientific purposes. And yes, I know “scientific purposes” is a euphemism for everything from using recreational drugs to buying porn mags to voting Republican. It’s disgusting and dirty and demeaning if your friends find out.

I also know from a bit of scientific reading that it would have been best to name the chickens something like “Chick001", “Chick002”, and so on. Giving them names like “Eugene”, “Lucy” and “Linda” might emotionalize my research and bring people to believe that I lack the emotional distance to observe these fluffy little balls of joy… I mean Gallus Virtualus, of course.

I’ll also deny that I stood watching the eggs for 15 minutes hoping something would happen. And even if I did, it wasn’t a very emotional moment – open your fridge, take out an egg and look at it for a while. It was about that exciting. And, to be honest, after that brief moment of parental pride when Lucy, then Eugene and finally that little beauty of a biddy Linda deshelled, watching them stumble around my land was about as exciting as reading a phone book.

As you can see, I’m not going to get caught up with doting indulgently on them. Though I will keep you up to date on their current state. I think I might just go check them now. I wonder if Lucy would like a satin lined nest when she gets bigger...