Second Life Newb

Blogflux Update

I know this post isn't specifically SL related but it relates to my last post here. I got rejected from Blogflux. I guess I have subverted the blog because my blogs aren't enough like a blog for them to include in their directory. Oh well. I still like them even if it kind of pisses me off.

One Year with Second Life Insider has really great directory searches. From there I found this blog. I haven't read tons of it but find what I've seen so far interesting. It looks like another chronicle from someone of their SL experiences but maybe more frequently than mine are. I think for me, I enjoy thinking about and finding out information on other's experiences in SL more than having my own. I guess I'm more of a SL philosopher as I'm not really into the experience of it. Ok, I've admitted it. Hopefully that doesn't keep you from checking out some of the interesting finds and thoughts related to SL on my blog. Also, check out this other person's blog related to SL over 365 days. Enjoy.

If you are yourself also a Newb and want to no more about that from the above site they have a category just for us.
Go to:

Beyond that they have a lot of interesting categories and I think you could spend a lot of time just searching through what interests you there. Don't forget to check back here once in awhile though.

Social Change in Second Life?

I tend to be much more into You Tube than Blip but I found this on an interesting blog. The blog is: and is kept up by a digital media professor named Morgan Schwartz. I found it by searching New Media on If all goes well my home page will be on blogflux soon. Anyway, back to the point of this post. So here's the video and below are Josh Levy's comments from Blip on his video.

What Josh Levy posted on Blip about his video:

A Better World in Second Life? is a machinima documentary about how real-world activists are using the virtual world Second Life as a platform for social and political activism. In the film I meet progressive organizers and environmental, anti-war, and anti-genocide activists who are using Second Life for collaboration, organizing, advocacy, and creative work. I question the nature of activism in a virtual world, and wonder whether spending time in a virtual space necessarily moves participants toward action, or merely gives them a false sense of action and catharsis.

The film is broken up into five chapters. Each chapter is linked to on the right.

The project benefited from the help of several kind folks: please go to for thank-yous and more information.

-Josh Levy

Dwight's Second Second Life

One of the interesting characteristics of television is its ability to self-reference itself and build upon those references. I suppose it comes as no surprise then that other cultural media forms (SL, the YouTube, etc.) that sometimes reference television in their user generated content are now also being referenced by television. Where will all this snow balling get us? Well, I don't know yet but if I figure it out before you it will probably be posted on this blog.

Anyway, here's a the YouTube clip of The Office when Dwight is talking about his avatar Dwight in Second Life. I haven't found one yet that has the part when Dwights creation of SL within SL to make a SL SL for himself yet. I'm sure it will also end up here when I find it.

CSI:NY in SL from the YouTube

Can I just start by saying that this wasn't my experience with SL at all. However, I think it's kind of cool when user generated content laden items from popular culture get referenced in other places like TV. I also thought it was interesting the blending of the gladiator fights with SL. I'm sure there are some Colosseums in SL but haven't been to any myself yet. This episode begs another question for me, namely, who is the current "Paris Hilton" of SL? Any ideas?

Another Newb's Blog

I found these blogs today and thought anyone interested in another newb's experience might like to see these as well.

What I found interesting in the posts from this one was under: A little insight in the person behind Lynn Evelyn (a.k.a. Coming out of the closet). It was about experimenting with gender in SL to keep SL and real life separated but also as a kind of protection.

This blog was interesting in that another person felt the need to blog about their experiences from Day 1 in SL much like I did. However, that is the only post. I wonder if they gave up the blog or the blog and SL both or what? I liked the title though...My Second Birth. Maybe it's morbid but is this person even still alive? No posts since 2006...hmm.

Update on Public Infinity

I have decided to go ahead and create a separate blog for the project I am doing with Public Infinity. There is a link from this blog or you can go to:

So, if you are solely interested in that project I would suggest going to that blog.

Virtual Identity Crisis

From a philosophy magazine: "We have been engaged all of our lives in creating a stable sense of our identity out of whatever is thrown at us. We humans are unique among the animals in having a coherent sense of self, and this begins with our appropriating our own bodies as our own. This is our most fundamental human achievement: that of transforming our pre-personal bodies - blood, snot, etc. - into the ground floor of our personal identity...Existential Intuition the sense 'I am this' our appropriation of our own bodies as persons who participate in a collective culture. The essense of human identity lies in this continuuing self-redefinition."

What would SL look like if it wasn't made by humans with a need for that stable sense of identity?

What does it mean that our SL bodies don't have blood, snot, etc?

Do we get so into SL that we think 'I am this' when we are there as our avatars? What does that do to change our relationship to our physical bodies?

Life's Intrinsic Value

I read recently that, "Human lives are intrinsically valuable." The argument the author was making was that we should do all that we can to maximize reproduction including space colonization as a moral imperative. Maybe he was just a horny philosopher that wanted to get laid. I see the potential for the religious right to get a hold of this argument. Sex might turn into a holy imperative. Fun?!

Anyway, what about the colonization of virtual space? Are the lives of our avatars valuable because they are the internet "face" of a real human? Or are they just valued based on how much you have bought in terms of skin, hair, shape, etc.? If our avatars are intrinsically valuable, than we should want the babies we can buy in second life to be more than just accessories that we basically "wear." We should want them to carry on our virtual genes and ideals right? Maybe we should petition the Lindens? Who do we talk to about getting to really reproduce in SL? I mean enough people are having sex all the time without any consequences. But what if I want to reproduce there without having to buy the baby and just "wear" it?

I love Kathy Acker.

"We are now, in the United States and in England, living in a world in which ownership is becoming more and more set. The rich stay rich, the poor stay dead. Death - in - life. The only social mobility left occurs in terms of appearance: things no longer change hands. But fashion is not purely ornamental, it is political...In such a society as ours the only possible chance for change, for mobility, for political, economic, and moral flow lies in the tactics of guerilla warfare, in the use of fictions, of language." - Kathy Acker

I probably didn't get this quote exactly perfectly quoted but I think one of the mother's of appropriation wouldn't mind. My thoughts are this, what does SL offer in terms of mirroring this ugly truth about our society back at us? Especially since so much about SL appears to me to really come down to economics. Call me a doomsayer or a prophet but I think it's a matter of time before people realize the potential for the tactics of guerilla warfare in SL. My advice, either let go completely or hold on to your inventories and second lives tightly.

Simpson's Did It! (in my best General Disarray voice)

I had planned to attempt to redo at least some of the projects Marina Abramovic did when she did her "seven easy pieces." However, it turns out, 0100101110101101.ORG already have a jump on that project and with help are executing it better than I could too. Oh well. The whole thing made me think about that south park episode where butters keeps coming up with ideas and his sidekick says, "simpson's did it." If you don't know what I'm talking about, you probably need to watch more south park and play less second life. But just in case you are attached to your computer you can find a summary at:

Just another question or two.

1. If there is indeed in the way we experience the world a mind/body split then my body is already in a sense my avatar. So then what is my SL avatar?

2. In a place like SL where you can change gender as often as you want and you spend your own money etc., how does one address concepts like feminism?

3. If our identity is defined as the intersection between our body and our memories and shared cultural memories, than what is our SL identity?

All the Names of SL Mindfreak's

Mindfreak Aero
Mindfreak Anatine
Mindfreak Back
Mindfreak Berzin
Mindfreak Boram
Mindfreak Box
Mindfreak Carter
Mindfreak Congrejo
Mindfreak Dragonash
Mindfreak Dryke
Mindfreak Ferraris
Mindfreak Frossard
Mindfreak Furse
Mindfreak Heckroth
Mindfreak Hyun
Mindfreak Kidd (Me)
Mindfreak Laval
Mindfreak McNally
Mindfreak Oppewall
Mindfreak Raymaker
Mindfreak Robbiani
Mindfreak Sands
Mindfreak Sin
Mindfreak Smashcan
Mindfreak Soderstrom
Mindfreak Straaf
Mindfreak Tomsen
Mindfreak Writer
Mindfreak Ziskey
MindfreakMichele Eel

I wanted to get a picture of all the other Mindfreaks. I searched and found the list but don't know how to tell if they are online or where to find them. So the list was all I could do so far. Maybe I'll get that picture eventually. It could be like the Mindfreak yearbook.

Another Fellow YouTuber's Take on SL

Wordsworth: Pictures make us dumb.


DISCOURSE was deemed Man's noblest attribute,
And written words the glory of his hand;
Then followed Printing with enlarged command
For thought--dominion vast and absolute
For spreading truth, and making love expand.
Now prose and verse sunk into disrepute
Must lacquey a dumb Art that best can suit
The taste of this once-intellectual Land.
A backward movement surely have we here,
From manhood,--back to childhood; for the age--
Back towards caverned life's first rude career.
Avaunt this vile abuse of pictured page!
Must eyes be all in all, the tongue and ear
Nothing? Heaven keep us from a lower stage!


In the above poem, Wordsworth is lamenting the infantilism of illustrated newspapers. It is his opinion that the illustrated papers are the first steps towards driving us back into the caves. These illustrated newspapers can also be seen as the first steps towards our multimedia existence and also the beginnings of the information age. Wordsworth apparently felt that an overwhelming and endless influx of news from daily papers would cause extreme restlessness in humanity. In that opinion, he may have been right. However, this restlessness may be caused by many other things in our society and not just the daily influx of information. It makes me wonder what he would think of SL? Turning reality into a pictured pseudo reality? Would he find merit in this experience or be skeptical of it? Would he think it too was making us less intelligent? Why does the addition of the picture make us likened to cavemen?

It all adds up.

I have had a couple of strange experiences with SL lately. I’ve noticed them and written them down but not posted them until now. I suppose I felt that they were pieces of a post but probably not a post in and of themselves. Not to mention, as singular events or thoughts, they don’t seem that extraordinary but put together there might be something there.

The first note is about death. As far as I can tell you can’t die in second life. So what kind of “life” is it really? You can shop and have sex so maybe this amounts to life for some people but for me without the possibility of death what is the value of the life? Maybe that’s just my mortal body talking. I guess this also keeps it from being lumped in with other games because there is no goal and no possibility of death. What if things could just degrade? Would that change the nature of the materiality here or even the economics?

The second note is about good and evil. I admit not all of the ideas in these notes are not just mine. Many are taken from conversations with people also skeptical of the SL experience. For instance, we have discussed evil. Is there evil in second life? Is there even really much possibility for it? So if you are seen as good in SL are you good or is it just relative? What would evil add to this utopia/dystopia? What about the concept of free will?

The next note relates to names. As you’ve probably noticed by now, both in my artwork and in these postings I am interested in the concept of naming. Is naming just a way of tying the notion of something to something else? Is it in that way a concept web but not really a name? Or is a name for convenience? By this I mean if we as a group (see Wittgenstein) agree on a name for a thing does that make it easier to talk about? In SL your name is over your head (no pun intended). When you walk around you can see other people’s names over their heads. It’s kind of strange really. I know in a chat-room seeing the name of the other people in the room makes sense. But in SL, an environment, why don’t I have to ask you your name like I would in the real world? Why am I not forced into that convention? What does it mean that others can see my name without my necessarily wanting them to? What does it mean that I could choose my first name but had to take my last from a list? How do the last names make it to the list and why was my real world last name not there?

Next, the cage experience was scary. The other night I was exploring another island and looking for how you can purchase a gesture to appear intoxicated. As I walked around this island I guess I must have gotten pushed or something because I ended up falling off this building but I wasn’t walking at that point. Then I landed and as I stood up this cage was coming on me. I was scared. At first I guess what little game playing experience I have came in and I thought I don’t want to be caged. This could be bad for game play so I teleported out of there. I think some part of me was scared on other levels and I found that interesting. Why did I care if my avatar was put in a cage?

The last note is about walking around in the real world after being in SL for a little while. One night a week or two ago I had been in SL for a couple of hours. I feel strange when I do spend time there because aside from my assigned project for this summer I just don’t really know what to do there. I think I would almost be more comfortable if it was a conventional game with goals. Since it is islands, I don’t even feel like I know how to head to the real world equivalent of a downtown to hangout. Anyway, I was walking home from school that night and there were very few people on campus. I noticed that much like riding on a boat I had this disorienting experience of not having my real world legs yet. When I would walk I would feel the jumpy movements of my avatar. When I would come to certain obstacles or get frustrated with walking I would have the urge to push the fly button. "..why walk when you can fly.." - Mary Chapin Carpenter. And when I saw people I wanted there conversations to just pop up on my screen along with their names. Strange. I laughed at all of this but wonder what happens to people that make SL a significant part of their lifestyle? Do these small changes affect them in bigger ways?

Well, that’s it for my small notes and this post.

Another Before and After

Originally uploaded by oneskullproductions
Before is Mindfreak when she nauseated me. After is now, and I must say, she is looking all badass!

VR: Daydreaming, recreation or our way further down the rabbit hole?

What is the true nature of our existence? Human beings have been speculating about this question probably since there were human beings. We have generated myths, religions, and philosophies and maybe now even games and virtual worlds in order to try and get at that answer.

The Hindus proclaim that our lives are "maya," which is a Sanskrit word meaning "illusion." Some have described the Hindu conception of the universe as “God playing hide-and-seek with Himself.”

Buddhism is slightly different from Hinduism in looking at this question. In Buddhist teaching, there is no fundamental reality at any level. So I guess even God playing hide-and-seek is illusion.

There is also a difference between the Eastern and Western religious view of this question. Western thinkers do not generally call into question the reality of the self. We are raised on the notion of the individual. In our case, the universe might be a dream or an illusion, but I the dreamer am real with my own individual soul.

The Gnostics, on the other hand, are said to have believed that Yahweh is in fact not really God but an evil deceiver who created the false reality of the material world within which we are imprisoned. They believe our souls contain sparks of light connecting us to the True God, and by obtaining mystical knowledge ("gnosis") we can transcend this false reality and reunite with Him.

So -- is this "reality" or is this some sort of dream or illusion? And if this isn’t reality then what is virtual reality? Will it help us answer this question?

Like Kathy Acker, I got some of this from another source. To see that for yourself go to:

VR Conspiracy theories (Read at your own risk)

Occasionally I find it interesting to “google” the things I am wondering about. So the other day I searched for “virtual reality conspiracy theory”. I got 1,570,000 hits. The very first one had an interesting title, “The Future History of the World…” and a site name of How could I resist?

Apparently this page is a preview of a new E-book that the site owner tells us is, “endorsed by some of the smartest people on the planet.” This was getting better all the time! As if that wasn’t convincing enough, we find the author telling us right off the bat that he is “totally sane.” Wow! What more do you need for the ingredients of a good conspiracy theory but the introduction of “I’m not crazy”?

Let’s start reading. At first glance some things here do sound interesting. Like the concept that humans can, “…manipulate and build structures at the same level that biological systems operate.” Not something I as a nonscientist can verify but it does sound interesting doesn’t it? Sounds like a concept ripe with possibilities to me. It also makes the author sound like he knows what he’s talking about which is also good. Let’s go on.

Now that we know our author is smart and sane and that his book is endorsed by the smart we are ready to get into the good stuff. Shortly, we are warned that we are headed for disaster with our use of nanotechnology and virtual reality (VR). VR is a part of that disaster by coming into every home. According to our conspiracy theorist, the danger here is that we will become accustomed to communicating with non-real people. By doing this, the author thinks that soon we will be unable to distinguish artificially intelligent virtual people from real people. The author must think we are not as smart of sane as him. Not to mention, having worked on some AI communication recently, I think this might be a little while off. Let’s keep going anyway and see where this theory is taking us.

Apparently our conspiracy theorist also believes that beyond communication we will also get used to seeing creatures that look strange. I wonder if he’s heard of Halloween or Hollywood? Anyway, apparently this will pave the way for aliens to introduce and integrate themselves slowly into our society. Nanotechnology, VR and Aliens oh my! What more could we ask for in a good conspiracy theory? Wink, wink. Now we just need to involve the world governments and I think we’re set.

Speaking of governments, on the plus side our theorist seems to also think that VR would make world peace a possibility. This is an unusual twist on the usual gloom and doom I’ve seen in the conspiracy theory field. We may have found ourselves a conspiracy theory optimist! His theory for world peace is as follows: if my VR best friend lives in Russia or the Middle East than I don’t want to nuke those countries anymore so we become one big happy online family. I’m not sure he’s seen the news lately but I’m pretty sure my not wanting to nuke a country doesn’t really matter. Following his logic we need to get the president and congress to play second life and make friends with more people. Until then I think we should all be practicing with our headsets our virtual performances of “Kum bi ya” just in case he’s right. See you on SL, my foreign friend (or alien?).

Compare - This is why I hate my avatar!

Originally uploaded by oneskullproductions
See for yourself. She might be cute to some people but she doesn't represent me at all. The hand on her hip and those Capri pants are atrocious. Don't even get me started on that hair! Notice any differences?

Is there something too reassuring about today’s technology?

I am certainly not anti-technology. In fact, for the most part I enjoy it. The potential problem I see is in the way it is evolving. It is becoming cheaper and more readily available. This seems good when we think about the hard work people have done to get computer access to everyone. For instance, many public schools and libraries have raised money to make multiple computers with internet access available. Some communities are working to make free community wide wireless internet access available. I even heard a conversation recently in which someone asked, “Did those wind-up laptops ever make it to Africa?”

To get your own laptop, you can you go to your local department store (Wal-Mart) and pick one up for a reasonable price. Not only will it be affordable but it will be ready for you to use right “out of the box!” I wonder though if, like socialism, this idea of everything for the masses is better on paper than in reality or virtual reality. Especially since a lot of the motivation for this has been more about profit and capitalism than good-will towards your fellow human/avatar. This seems to be one of the philosophical questions at the heart of technology’s use by a society. I mean without the personal computer and the notions it brought into all our homes, things would no doubt be different. What would those differences be?

Beyond pricing, and since technology is another product to be bought and sold, the design aspects are changing as well. We can’t deny it is having an impact on what looks appealing to us an what doesn’t. Disposability is also no longer taboo. This has an effect on the materials things are made out of and the quality put into them. If I know that when the next version of something comes out you will want to “upgrade” I can make it with less quality and cheaper materials. This shift in our relationship to the concept of disposeabiltiy is, in my opinion, part of the reason why we are seeing more and more uses for plastic. It is also contributing to outsourcing and more things labeled “made in china”.

The other idea that has tagged along as technology has evolved and become more widely available is size. Unlike other areas of our lives, small is in! The smaller and more functions the better. We want our cellphones to do more than make calls. We want our cars equipped with DVD players to entertain the kids. We want our laptops lighter and faster and able to support us in all our multimedia adventures. Even our household appliances are seeing changes. Look at your programmable self-grinding coffee pot for example.

To meet our “needs”, the manufacturers have had to make the technology more “user friendly”. So, in an effort to appeal to the masses, the technology has become smarter allowing us to be dumber. Despite all of this, it looks like we are still a long way away from the Jetsons. Will our overly “user friendly” products keep us from striving to reach our Jetsonian dreams? This dumbing down is not just with computers. Let’s take another look at Second Life.

You log on and get an avatar and are dropped onto “Orientation Island.” There you are taught the basic workings of how to be a part of this place. I am told that “Orientation Island” didn’t always exist or you could get off much easier in the past. In theory, I think this place is a good idea. As a newb, I didn’t just automatically know how to do things there. But does it dumb down the experience of just having to ask or figure it out? And what kind of experience did it offer? I thought it was kind of lame and frustrating. Not exactly begging me to want to spend much more time or any money. I’m persisting with my exploration for university credits and artistic reasons. I wouldn’t say at this point I get the same enjoyment or needs met there as other people I know.

As for profit, to alter your avatar far beyond what was given to you, expect to spend some money. Will the money I spend make me feel like I need to spend more time there to get my money’s worth? I mean I haven’t been there for long but it looks like to fit in will require some cash. I am still asking myself how bad do I want nipples?

Businesses are also creating a presence there for profit reasons. Second Life users are almost like a captive test market. Universities are building their own spaces for educational purposes. They also want to appeal to their students or potential students (customers) as well. I also hear SL is big among libraries and they even discussed this at some big librarians conference! But despite all the money you spend, there isn’t much difference in SL. At least I haven’t seen the same difference you see in your day to day real world wanderings. Those flaws that make us unique and beautiful seem to be for the most part missing. I wonder how the SL experience differed when you still had to pay to get an account?

There is no doubt in my mind that this “user friendly” requirement has compressed our differences. Not just our differences in user ability or economic standing but difference like virtual appearance. You are suddenly interacting with virtual people in a place where everyone looks like a model and probably not much like themselves. In this way, I wonder how the soothing quality of technology is effecting us beyond the ideas I have presented here. Is this easy technology effecting our notions of difference, aesthetics, identity, and the body?

Mow the lawn yourself.

“By the turn of the millennium a technology known as VIRTUAL REALITY will be in widespread use. It will allow you to enter computer generated artificial worlds as unlimited as the imagination itself. Its creators foresee millions of positive uses - while others fear it as a new form of mind control...” opening lines from the movie, “The Lawnmower Man”

This past week I watched “The Lawnmower Man.” I read on the back cover that it had to do with virtual reality. I thought it might help with my second life research so I rented the movie. It left me wondering where are my helmets and goggles?

It’s an interesting film. For 1992 the special effects were pretty impressive. For 2007 they were kind of sad. It asks the same questions so many science fiction movies do. Namely, what happens when technology gets into the hands of bad people (governments usually) or gets taken too far?

It’s the typical American fear film. You know the theme. Sing along, “One day technology will be our undoing.” Yes boys and girls, we will do it to ourselves. I guess our puritan heritage still leaves us wanting to crave in moderation. It’s the old, “Let me flagellate myself while I camp out for my new iPhone” mentality.

I also noticed the rampant use of drugs paired with VR in the film. I wonder if second life could get away with selling some type of “experience enhancement” vitamin supplements or something? Maybe they could just include it free with the helmet. Now I will have to figure out a way to determine if second life is making me smarter. Since everyone knows telepathy is a sign of intelligence, telepathy would be a sure sign. Um, yeah.

The movie is like VR meets Of Mice and Men with a bit of superhero comic elements thrown in for good measure. It’s the story of a mentally disabled lawnmower man, Jobe, who gains great mental abilities such as telepathy through the use of VR and the VR drugs. But like any good superhero film, it all goes terribly wrong. Jobe gains too much power and is now a threat to everyone. And like Frankenstein, he is even a threat to the man that “created” him. Anyone notice the links to religion in this movie yet?

Jobe sees himself as a conduit channeling all the ancient wisdom like that of the alchemists. He wants to take over all the computer networks. It was hard not to laugh when all the phones were ringing in the end. It made me nostalgic for that dial-up modem sound. Despite its best efforts this movie did not make me afraid of second life. Not any more afraid than I was anyways. I mean I can’t even get my avatar to look like me. What do I have to fear? And from what I’ve seen so far, the biggest threat is that in a place where people could be or make anything it depressingly looks very much like the world we already live in. It amazes me that there isn’t more flying sex going on! But that’s another post.

I'm stuck on "Orientation Island" and I can't get off!

"My theory is that the hardest work anyone does in life is to appear normal." - from movie Ed TV.

A few days ago I learned how to get into a car in second life. Driving is another can of worms! I kept walking all over the car and finally this guy drives over and asks me if I want a ride. I confessed I didn't know how to get into the car. He was pretty patient explaining things to me. But then he tells me you have to collect stars to get off the island. Shannon said he was lying. So, now I'm a gullible avatar.

Prior to the whole car experience, I walked up to someone and they kept looking at me. Well, their avatar was staring at my avatar. So I say something like, "I know I don't like this outfit either." She says she does like mine but not hers. I said I thought that was funny. She asked why and then never said another word to me. Maybe something distracted her in her real life? So I walked away. It was strange to feel strong emotions about this "game."

And walking away I thought, this is like really involved chatting. I mean I remember posting on message boards and getting so involved in those exchanges. Once, on a Buddhist message board in the early 90s, the discussion got really heated about cutting the lawn. Was the grass a sentient being? Was cutting the lawn damaging to it? How was karma involved in all of this? Was the guy who initiated the talk just unwilling to admit he didn't want to mow the lawn?

No wonder I got emotional when other people wouldn't talk to me in second life or just walked away! In fact, I saw another avatar that looked like mine. I ran up to her. She took one look and ran away. I couldn't blame her. She scares me too. But it surprised me to feel sad about this virtual rejection. So what is happening with the our real world social structures that we are coming up with more and more complicated but realistic ways to communicate with others? And why do we spend more time communicating with strangers online than in person? And what does it mean to be a lesbian stuck on “Orientation” Island? Is that the Internet God's cruel joke?

I hate my avatar!

As part of my independent study research this summer, I have been assigned to work on a collaborative project developing a space in second life with another graduate student. She has been using second life since the beginning and is pretty much an expert while I am the definition of a "newb". (The word newb, is defined as a person with little or no experience in a any given game.)

So, after getting a name and logging on I had the new task of creating my avatar. Since the avatar is an Internet user's representation of him/herself, I was more than disappointed with mine. I did not choose when you could when I first signed on thinking this would give me more freedom to think about it and choose later. I was wrong.

Being born in second life was fast and strange. I sort of fell in when I signed on as this light brown headed white bodied naked lady. Almost as soon as I hit the ground, I turned into this Capri wearing pony-tailed freak. She is not even close to a representation of me. I am a shorthaired non-Capri wearing lesbian. This avatar was so girly and just gross!

One afternoon a professor asked me how the project was coming along. I exclaimed to him, "I hate my avatar! She looks Puerto Rican and has pony tails and Capri pants." Another grad in the room shot back, "How racist!" My reply, "I don't hate her because she looks Puerto Rican. I hate her because she has pony tails and wears Capri pants!"

Now what? I figured out how to shorten her pants to long shorts and turn them blue. Her shirt is now black. I took off her vest and made the shoes black. I haven’t figured out how to get rid of the necklace yet. Not optimal but at least now I don’t feel nauseated as soon as I log on.

I wonder if this sort of thing happens when you have children? And what does it mean to feel like so much of my identity as an out lesbian is tied to my appearance? Or why am I so uncomfortable appearing that feminine to other users? What would it mean if other people got to know her and I decided to delete her?

What's in a name?

From the pages of Paul Auster's graphic novel City of Glass, to the Holy Bible, to roll call and many other places comes the notion that names are important. They are the gold nuggets of language. Without them what would we have? "And if we can't name a common object, how can we speak of things that truly concern us?" - Paul's book. And so I was charged with the important task of first choosing a name for my avatar in second life.

I tried names I had had in my real life like Sky and even variations like Skye but to no avail. With so many people already named, I soon found that this was not going to be as easy a task as I had initially imagined. I then started from a list in my head of names I had always liked but again no luck. Then I thought of funny names to go with the last names choice list but someone already had those names too. I'll have to make a mental note to try and meet people like Mile High. Maybe not?

And so the television played on in the background. By now it was getting late and I was becoming desperate. Something came on about a magician show Mindfreak. Jenn sensed my frustration and suggested it. I kind of liked the sound of it. I didn't know much about the show and hoped people wouldn't assume I was his biggest fan or something. I more liked the idea that I question the limits of our minds in my research. It seemed like it might work. I paired it with Kidd. My father likes to call me 'kiddo' so it has a nice nostalgic feel to go with the conceptual bit. Would it work?

It did! So you can find me there under that name if I ever get off of "Orientation Island". But that's another post! If you find me we can even discuss the importance of names here or there. Now I'm left to try this name on for size and see how it fits. A chosen name to go with a chosen appearance for a virtual world. I wonder what it means to live in a time when we get to choose so many names for ourselves? Seeing the names acceptance on my laptop screen was a relief but hardly held the same feeling as something like the naming ceremony depicted in Roots. Oh well. Mindfreak Kidd doesn't fit with the look of my avatar yet but that is yet another post!

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