M. Giant's
Throwing stuff at the internet to see what sticks

Wednesday, September 12, 2007  

My So-Called Second Life

Part of what Trash does for the company that employs her is to research and understand online social networking resources. Because of her, I have accounts on Orkut, Facebook, MySpace, Flickr, and LinkedIn, among others, that I know very little about. Once or twice, she's even dropped mention of maybe having an account on Blogger that she's been using to post humorous essays under my name for the past five and a half years. I'm pretty sure she's making that last one up.

Somewhat to her dismay, she's having to start looking into a different kind of site that's being used for social networking. Ever hear of this "Second Life" thing?

I gather it's kind of like the Metaverse in Snowcrash, except you're still sitting in front of your computer, interacting via keyboard/mouse/microphone/webcam/whatever instead of having your brain directly jacked in. And apparently you still have to use your mouse to look around and your keyboard to walk and stuff. Trash was supposed to be logged into Second Life to do some research on the kinds of businesses that have presences there. Except she was kind of getting bogged down trying to figure out how to do things like "run."

It didn't help that the moment she logged in for the first time, a creepy-ass avatar popped up behind her wiggling its fingers and saying, "Want to have teh sex?" Nor did it help that, under the impression that businesses probably had their stakes in the virtual landscape represented by structures, she walked into her very first one and discovered two furries having teh sex.

Yesterday I called her at work to see how her research was going.

"It keeps freezing my computer," she said.

"Maybe you need to talk to your IT department and tell them you really need to play this game for work."

"Shut up. I just fell off a bridge."

"Are you all right?"

"I’m in the water. I don't know where I am. How do I get out? Hey, here's a pawn shop."

"You should buy a towel."

"I seem to be in kind of a bad neighborhood."

"You're basing that on the fact that there's a pawn shop there? I thought the rules and assumptions of real life didn't apply."

"Yeah, well, there's all these buildings with boarded-up windows and graffiti. Also, I can't figure out how to climb steps."

"Seriously? Okay, the graffiti I can understand, but going to the trouble to virtually nail up virtual boards to protect virtual property from virtual looters...?"

"My computer just froze again. I have to let you go."

"Maybe you should see if there's a Second Life for Dummies."

"Don't laugh. That's exactly what I'm going to do."

She spent the rest of that afternoon and most of a very frustrating evening trying to figure stuff out. After M. Small went to bed, I tried to help by downloading it and logging in at my computer. I spent about an hour wandering around "Orientation Island," being mocked by signs that said things like "Press F1 For Help" (it didn't) and "Click to retry station" (even though I hadn't yet tried them and didn’t understand what doing so would entail). Needless to say, I didn't do any better than she did. I couldn't even manage to figure out how to instant-message her (as opposed to simply yelling up the stairs), let alone meet up with her someplace so we could crash into things together.

"I figured out how to run," I told her afterwards.

"Besides hitting CTRL-R, which makes you run all the time?"

"Uh, no."


"But I did figure out that when you're flying, you can use the 'page up' and 'page down' keys to change your altitude."

"That's good to know. I was starting to worry that just clicking the 'stop flying' button all the time was going to cause some lasting damage."

So now we're only pixels away from figuring our how to explore the Second Life presences of her employer's competitors, once we also find out whether they exist, where they are, and how to get there. But she's still worried about showing up there and making a fool out of herself .Or, more accurately, out of her avatar, which in addition to having ugly hair, also has this unfortunate and mystifying habit of pressing the point of its elbow against the back of its head for no reason. Maybe it's trying to fix its hair.

"The first avatar I saw," I reassured her, "was a fat guy in tighty-whities sitting on the ground and going 'sssssssssssdddddddddddssssss.' So I think the standards of competent behavior are a little lower there."

Are any of you into this? If so, tips are welcome. Neither of us will be having teh sex with you, however.

posted by M. Giant 7:15 PM 12 comments


It isn't that my fake hair is ugly, exactly. It's that I have this enormous lump on the back of my fake head, as though I have a very large tumor that I am trying to hide. The elbow part is true, though, as is the booting me out EVERY DAMN MINUTE and the terrible furry sex.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 12, 2007 at 7:36 PM  

Do I remember from earlier posts that Trash is a librarian? A lot of libraries are trying to offer reference services in Second Life. They're pretty big on studying Second Life here at UIUC's library school (although I personally wouldn't want to hitch my academic reputation to that particular star, because of all the user access difficulties you've outlined in this post.) Anyway, we offer a continuing ed course about Second Life, if that would be helpful at all. I've tried it out a few times and loved dressing my character up and playing with her hair and makeup, but found the actual world itself pretty boring.

By Blogger MsMolly, at September 12, 2007 at 8:31 PM  

I've used it a couple of times, and yes, navigating and locomotion is somewhat tricky to figure out. Usually, there are people around who can help you out, or at least mock you nicely :) And yes, I've been booted out frequently on my computer at home; however, I have better luck on my computer at work, which has a faster processor and more memory.

Trash, have you figured out how to alter your appearance yet? You can change your hairstyle and head shape so you're not so tumor-y.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 12, 2007 at 8:34 PM  

All I know about Second Life is that a lot of Furries use it. That's all I need to know to make me stay far far away from it.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 12, 2007 at 10:37 PM  

Oh god, a while ago my best friend's aunt started having one of those trendy virtual affairs on Second Life and after we laughed hysterically for 45 minutes we thought it would be fun to see this "world" for ourselves. We both signed up, spent an hour or so bumbling uselessly about, and gave up. I don't understand how people are able to DO anything.

Sorry that's so unhelpful, but know that you aren't alone.

By Blogger Kate F., at September 13, 2007 at 6:09 AM  

And considering how much Trash enjoys furries, she must really love this.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 13, 2007 at 8:27 AM  

it's a horrible game - it's about 98% sex. The other 2% is people who figured out how to make money off people having virtual sex. WHATEVER YOU DO, DO NOT FLY EXTRA-HIGH. That's where the extra-crazy sex is. Furry sex is NOTHING compared to the rest of it.



By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 13, 2007 at 9:42 AM  

Ha! I am also in a library school which is VERY interested in all this Second Life stuff. But the first time I heard about it, I also thought it was from Snow Crash!! Oddly, in a department full of tech geeks, no one else claims to have read this book. Geek Posers.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 13, 2007 at 11:35 AM  

Interesting that you mention Snowcrash. I heard a rumour that the creators of Second Life were actually inspired to create it after having read Snowcrash.

By Blogger Chris, at September 14, 2007 at 6:05 PM  

I read some newsletters from back when I was in the world of BizNiss; cutting-edge commerce and all that. I was reading about 2ndLife when it was still pretty new.

Prediction: fewer than half the present number of subscribers, within three years. Think of what would have happened to Las Vegas if Bugsy Seigel didn't have the backing of the mob.

Seriously, this is pretty much the waste of time people thought the Internet was going to be. It just about utterly lacks a reason for being, and as you've seen it's hard to use. It's... pretty, I guess.

In contrast, look at how butt-ugly MySpace is.

By Blogger Febrifuge, at September 15, 2007 at 11:53 AM  

And just today, I finished reading Snowcrash, so two days ago, I wouldn't have gotten the reference to the Metaverse. Wow, man.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 16, 2007 at 3:14 PM  

I had to used Second Life for a school paper once. I could never understand it and bs-ed my paper completely. So I understand your pain but can offer no help.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at September 18, 2007 at 2:23 PM  

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