Monday, September 22, 2008

Linking Dual Identities and Disability Issues in SL

I have noticed an interesting upswing in the number of correlations on the net between Second Life and disability issues recently. Blogs (like this), alternative SL clients, talks at SLCC, Second Ability, more disability groups in SL constatly springing up, and so on. It almost looks like a meme.

Given my own connections (having a Deaf spouse who works with disability issues and my having epilepsy) it only makes sense that I would want to reflect on the question of how this relates to my two characters. Maybe also delving into the dichotomies between them.

My older character (Kara Spengler) is pretty close to myself with a few tweaks. Okay, so I am not a humanoid cat, but otherwise we are pretty similar. Unless my last name comes into it, someone talking to my avatar is pretty much the same as someone talking to my RL self. [btw, when I say Kara below I mean the character rather than just not using 1st person when talking about myself]

At the beginning of the year I also created another character (Caitlyn Clawtooth). After a few days I decided to have her be a child. I have written about that decision elsewhere and will probably repost it here at some point too. Kara occasionally takes on kid-form and looks pretty close to Cait and the two have some matching things in their wardrobes.

It is almost like they are two completely different people at times. Their personalities are quite different and I tend to interact with SL differently depending on which one I use (for Kara SL is more a tool she uses a lot to extend reality, for Cait SL is a completely different world). The ties between the two are very close though. For example, Kara walked away from being an officer in one thing when Cait was not welcome there, Kara is extremely protective of Cait, and kid avatars in SL in general.

Now that I have wandered way off course how to get back to the main thread …

For purposes of simplification we are dealing with two populations in SL: disabled users and non-disabled users. While the former group tends to immerse themselves into their second life, the latter views it as just an extension of how they conduct their RL. It is my position that Cait represents the first view and Kara the second. Kara likes SL but as that character SL is interesting but just another electronic communications medium. Cait only exists in SL and things relating to it.

Interesting how two characters that you would think would be similar have some pretty fundamental differences.

Monday, September 08, 2008

These Old houses

Well, it must be fall since I am feeling reflective.

When I was growing up I lived in an 1800s farmhouse in New Hampshire. Well, technically my first year or so were in 2 other houses, but my memories of those were only because of there being pictures of me at them. It was a nice relaxing place: 60 acres of mostly woods and a few fields. Leftover buildings from when it was a working farm. Little traffic on the road. My cousin’s family within walking distance. Basically the kind of place a kid would love.

College and graduate school were a succession of dorms and apartments. Some great friends there, but the buildings were no more than where to keep my stuff. After that I lived one place for a year, then in another for the past 11+ years .... but both of them I call ‘home’ only by default. I have been living in Virginia since 1990 ..... but will always consider myself a New Hampshireite and my apartment here just where I happen to be at the moment.

It is more about the area than the specific building, even though it holds memories. When my parents sold my childhood home I did not come forward to say I wanted it .... but I get misty-eyed when I visit their new home up there the moment I start seeing rocks that are not down here.

In Second Life I built the house I wanted (even though my building abilities were rudimentary at the time). As much as possible it was built to blend into the environment. To the point where someone would be walking through what they thought was a park (my roof, actually) and get startled when they walked over a skylight. Some of the features:
- grass coloured walls
- large flat roof area (trees, rocks, a fire circle, etc)
- built to look like part of the landscape around it
- most of the inside was one huge room, which had trees, a large rock, and the ground being the floor

The pics of that house are at .

I was tweaking it constantly. The biggest annoyance was some ads near me spoiling the tranquil atmosphere but I was working on that. As I was making progress an ad tower much larger than the others cropped up. It was a huge setback, but not a complete defeat.

I became deeply involved in setting up another SL project earlier this year. With being there all the time, I was rarely at my house. Paying the monthly cost of it almost seemed pointless, but I still liked the place.

Then I reached the last straw,

One of the ad farmers bought a plot next to me and put up a huge monstrosity. A big green thing spewing particles 3000 meters in the air, spinning xxx ads, and lagging the area to 1/3 of the speed the area was at before it was built.

Ok, that was it, I was out of there. The ironic thing was she always goes on about her being part of the native american culture, a culture that respects the environment. But who was littering the landscape and forcing something meant to be in harmony with it to be taken down and sold? Right now I am living on a sky platform near there and continuing my original mission to clean up the area, but I do miss that house.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

They're Coming to Take Them Away, Ha Ha!


Finally Linden Lab is cracking down on advertising in Second Life. After allowing them to do whatever they wanted for years, they will put new stringent rules (including licensing for any they want to continue) in place on Octber 1.

Many parties will probably be slated for that day. :)

News headline it would have been nice to see 8 years ago

"After a recount, Gore wins in Florida"