Cady muses about Second Life

Getting dressed in SL

Jeez, what a slacker I’ve been.  My last post was almost a year ago, when I promised to start posting more!  LOL!  Ok, no apologies and no promises this time.  Maybe that will take the pressure off…

I’ve been busy building these days, which is one of my favorite SL pastimes!  Over at the Anglican Cathedral on Epiphany Island, we are making plans to open up a New Resident Center (which will be a feature of the renovated community center I’ve been working on).  The idea is to have a place that new folks can use as a home base while they get adjusted to things in SL.  The parcel that the center sits on will be build-enabled, and equipped with dressing rooms, social areas, and useful info and landmarks.  As a result, I’ve been inspired to write up my own orientation guides to SL.  Since we will have dressing rooms, I figured the place to start was with how to get dressed.  I’ve been getting dressed in SL for so long (3 years next month!) that I often forget how confusing it is to someone just starting out.  Which explains the extremely long and detailed introduction posted below.  Share this with your friends, and let me know if I forgot anything!

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June 15, 2010 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 4 Comments

Cady pounces back into her blog

Hello again!  Yes, it has been AGES since I’ve updated this blog!  Trying to get back in the groove now.  I think I’m also getting more focused on what I want to do here.  Which paradoxically might mean that it is less focused on a particular theme, other than SL of course.

So, what’s with the ears and tail?

Those of you who have known me in SL for a while may have noticed that I’m sporting a new look these days.  So, what’s up with that?  Ok, here is the story.

My good friend Grizzy Griswold, owner of Grizzy’s Cafe, has a yearly event/social experiment, in which she and anyone who wants to join in assume a different avatar for a week.  I knew this was coming up, so I pondered how I might participate this year.  I figured it would be interesting, and would give me an excuse to try something new.  So, I considered my options. I had always been a bit intrigued by the nekos I have seen out on the grid, so I thought I’d give that a try.

A neko (the Japanese word for cat) is a human/cat hybrid.  Nekos make up a large (and growing) subculture within SL, one that I never really understood before.  So I made it a project (and I do love me a good SL project!) to figure this neko thing out.  I started with Google, which led me to Stacia Villota’s excellent Virtual Neko blog.  Along with some excellent background info on the history of neko, Stacia gives some great tips on where to obtain neko parts, and what to do with them once you have them.  Armed with this, I struck out on my neko quest.

Like I said, this was just going to be an experiment.  I had no real intentions of transmuting into another species.  But I gotta tell you, something happened when I put on the tail and ears.  They just felt right.  And then I felt my personality start to shift a bit.  Nothing dramatic, mind you.  But I felt a little more playful with my lovely tail and ears in place.  A little more sassy, too.  A little more tough.  Not aggressive, really, but a little more…. well, feline.  It’s a sensibility that is hard to define, but you know it when you see (and feel) it, I suppose.  Anyway, it seems to have taken hold now.  I’m looking forward to seeing where it may lead.

August 17, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

SL Residents Rock!

I never fail to be impressed with the kindness and generosity of my fellow SL Residents.  Two incidents of this yesterday illustrate this perfectly.

SL Residents raise thousands of US dollars each year in an annual grid-wide fund raising effort for the Relay for Life effort sponsored by the American Cancer Society.  Last night, a fund raising event was held at Grizzy’s Cafe, owned by my good friend Grizzy Griswold.  In just a few hours of good fun and socializing, we raised close to $200 USD for the cause!  I will add that Grizzy put more than just her Linden dollars on the line.  She pledged to dress like a showgirl (NOT her usual mode of appearance) for a period of time to be determined by the amount raised.  By the end of the evening, Grizzy was on the hook for four weeks of sartorial excess.  She apologizes in advance for any awkwardness this may cause at her weekly bible study and other events for which she normally dresses in a much more conservative fashion.  It just goes to show what a good sport she is!

The second incident actually exemplifies the best and worst of SL behavior.  First I will explain to non-Residents that Second Life is created and designed almost exclusively by its Residents.  Linden Labs provides the servers and the basic template, but the rest is created by us.  Often those who have mastered a particular skill will open businesses to sell their goods and services.  One of the best of the lot is Fatima Ur, owner of the collection of Antique Artistry sims.  Not only is she an incredible designer, she is a lovely person who goes out of her way to take care of her customers (a trait I encounter again and again in SL merchants).  As a result, she has very devoted customers!  Well, long story short, just after I left Grizzy’s event, I got a group notice to Fatima’s customers.  Seems that someone (from the sound of it, an unscrupulous competitor) was purchasing items from Fatima on Xstreet SL (a web-based vendor of SL products) and posting very negative reviews.  When Fatima read the reviews, she immediately contacted the person who submitted the review and refunded their money.  Which they immediately used to buy more items and submit more negative reviews!  So this was clearly more than a case of an unsatisfied customer.  Fatima send the notice to inform her customers of what had happened, and asked them to consider visiting the site to submit their own reviews and comments on her products, to hopefully negate the bad ones.  I will add that she specifically requested that people not spend any more of their hard earned Linden dollars on this, but just review things that they had previously purchased.  Well, as soon as the notice arrived, the group IM was flooded with good wishes and pledges of support.  Many of us visited the site to submit our reviews, and from the sound of the IMs that were flying around many more were very happy to have an excuse to buy even more of her products, and submit glowing reviews as well.

Some people who have never experienced the sense of community present in virtual worlds have an idea that they are cold, impersonal places.  They couldn’t be more mistaken about that.

March 25, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

First impressions of Second Life

I’d like to say a word about the “new user experience” in SL.  It’s been a while since I was a “new user,” and I understand that Linden Labs is working to make the orientation better, but I understand that it can still be a little bumpy.

Let me put it this way.  SL is a very big place, with something to offer for anyone.  Let’s call it your “dream location,” as there is a spot in SL to match any vision of paradise anyone has ever come up with.  So, you have this vision in your head.  For the sake of example, let’s say you always wanted to live in Paris.  Your vision of arriving in Paris is of landing right in front of the Eiffel Tower.  You are very stylishly dressed, and you picture yourself ambling over to the Champs Elysses for a cafe au lait with the locals, who will all speak fluent English, and be instantly charmed by you.

But here is how it really plays out.  You land at a small airport on the outskirts of the city, and end up on a bus, crowded in with all of the people who happened to be on the plane with you, most of whom you may have absolutely nothing in common with.  Many of them do not speak your language, and their customs seem odd to you.  You are very disoriented in this foreign place, and haven’t figured out how the money works, or how to ask where the bathroom is.  You are all taken to a rather seedy part of town and dropped off at a bus station, where you are accosted by many strange people, some of whom seem to be there to take advantage of the tourists.

Now, if you really had traveled all that way to see Paris, you would hopefully push through the strangeness and discomfort, and find your way to that cafe you had pictured in your head.  You probably wouldn’t just give up at that point and get back on the bus to the airport.  But many people become overwhelmed and discouraged when they encounter a similar experience when entering SL, and give up on it.

I encourage you to push through the strangeness and give it a chance.  Yes, you will feel awkward at first, and many of the orientation spots are overrun with people who apparently have nothing better to do than give newbies a rough time of it.  But keep at it.  Most of the people here are really very friendly, and are very eager to help you get the hang of things.  We all remember what those first days were like, so people will really go out of their way to help you out, and won’t mind that you keep walking into the walls, and can’t figure out how to get that box off of your head.  Much seem to be made of the more sensational aspects of SL, and it is often portrayed as a giant red-light district.  But it is so much more than that.  It is a reflection of every aspect of human (and fantasy) culture that anyone has ever envisioned.  There is something there for everyone.  Trust me.  It is worth the trip!

March 16, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

Identity in SL

In my last “SL for newbies” post, I advised you not to worry too much about picking your avatar design during the registration process. Nothing wrong with going around in a newbie shape at first, but before long, you will want to personalize your appearance a bit.  And this really ties in to how you want to shape your identity in SL.

Speaking of identity, let me share with you the first bit of SL etiquette that you should learn.  Many people prefer to keep their RL (real life) and SL identity completely separate.  For that reason, when you first meet someone, do NOT launch into a lot of questions about their RL identity.  Even seemingly innocent questions such as “where are you in RL?” can make some people uncomfortable.  Respect this.  You can usually ask general questions, such as “what country are you in?,” but if they hesitate or ignore the question, back off and respect their wish for privacy.  This does NOT necessarily mean that they have “something to hide.”  It is really just a common desire in SL to keep their virtual experience separate from their day-to-day one.

You can choose to assume any sort of identity or appearance in SL that strikes your fancy.  You can create a look that mirrors your RL identity, or go for something completely different.  You are not bound by gender nor species.  You can be animal, vegetable or mineral here.  As a result, naturally, you can not make any assumptions about people based on their appearance.  This can be a very liberating experience for all concerned.  People tend to be very socialable in SL, and many report that they are more so in SL than in RL.  They are less self conscious about their appearance when they can fine tune it to project how they wish to be perceived.  This environment can also make other people are less intimidating to approach as well.  It really levels the social playing field, and opens up all sorts of opportunities to meet people that you might not have gotten an chance to meet in the non-virtual world.

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March 7, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 2 Comments

Getting started in Second Life

I’ve been getting questions lately from folks I know who are curious about SL. You can visit the SL website for more complete info, and I will be posting more about it in the future. For now, I’d like to address some of the most frequent questions I get about it.

How do you get started? The first step is to go to the SL website and download the SL viewer. You will want to check out the page about the SL system requirements, to make sure your computer is up to running SL. I got my computer before I even knew about SL, so I didn’t get a “gaming system” with all the bells and whistles. It runs fine on my computer, although I did have to upgrade my graphics card, as SL is a very graphics intensive program.

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March 3, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

The workshop was a success!

Well, the presentation at the diocesan workshop was a big success!  The morning session opened up with a brief intro, and led into a service of Morning Prayer, Rite II.  What made that unusual for a meeting of Episcopalians is that it was coming from the Anglican Cathedral in Second Life!  Well, not directly.  That is, the original plan was to actually log in to SL and hold the service in real time, but the logistics of that just didn’t come together.  So I arranged to have a service filmed (using a screen capture software program) and what was shown was a recording of a MP service that was staged for the event.  I did note to the folks in the room that this WAS a staged service, as there were only a handful of people in the virtual congregation, at which point the bishops in attendance laughed and noted that people always lie to the bishop about “average Sunday attendance.”

It was a very odd sensation.  I have been to many worship services, both in “real life” and in SL, but never in both simultaneously.  The folks gathered in RL didn’t quite know what to make of it at first, and there was a bit of nervous laughter to start, as they weren’t quite sure what was in store for them.  But as the familiar service began, everyone fell right into the rhythm of the responses.  Well, mostly.
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February 23, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 5 Comments

First blog post!

Ok, my first post!  Ummm…. now what?  I”ve been threatening to start a blog for a long time now, so here goes.  I’m on tap to give a presentation this Saturday on “Social Media and the Church” as part of the God’s Web Workshop being sponsored by the Episcopal Diocese of Southern Ohio.  So my first task is to set up a page of resources for the presentation.

I am SO not accustomed to getting up in front of a roomful of people and giving a presentation!  So a bit nervous about the whole thing.  But little by little it seems to be coming together.

So I guess what one does on a blog is talk about oneself.  And it seems the best way to start out the presentation as well, so here goes.  I am so not good at talking about myself!  It occurs to me that a good place to start is with the fact that I never thought I would be one of those “social media” people.  You see, I am hovering near the top end of the age demographic of people who frequent social networking venues such as Facebook.  Let’s just say that I am old enough to remember when a game of Pong made for an evening’s fun.  Besides, I was a bit wary of meeting people online.  Aren’t there dangerous people out there in cyberspace?  I would have no way of knowing who these people really were.  Plus, I’m a bit of an introvert at heart, so the idea of going to a big party full of invisible strangers was not my idea of a good time.  But here I am, in the thick of it.  How did that happen?  One step at a time.  Which, I am mindful, is what people say about addictive behavior.  And of course, that is one of the “charges” leveled at such pursuits as Facebook and Second Life.

Yes, social networking can become a very compelling experience, and I can see how those with a tendency toward addictive behavior could get sucked in.  But for me, anyway, it is also a very rewarding experience.

February 19, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 8 Comments