Sunday, April 6, 2008

Weekend in Second Life

Today I took the kids to the new movie Nim's Island. I don't always consider the messages in movies but I came up with three for this movie. Three is a magic number, not too many, but more than one. Every triangle has three corners, every triangle has three sides... Really the idea of three has just always stuck with me. Maybe, because of the catchy song.

So Nim's Island left me with the following messages; No one should be alone. Life is an adventure. and... Never give up hope.

I thought the movie was good. I could take my kids to it. No sex or dirty language. Best of all the kids watched it and were not crawling all over me disrupting my movie watching experience. I have to admit that I like Jodie Foster. She might be a great actress, but I don't think I can tell the difference. She feels close to me like someone that I grew up with and know, like my best friend. I remember watching her in Disney movies, The Courtship of Eddie's Father, and Tom Sawyer etc.

Anyway, the movie struck me as having meaning in the present. I have been looking into Second Life (SL). It is a very strange place, but not really all that different from Real Life (RL). It is not like Tron or anything dreamed up in the 80's, but it is fantastical. I rode a Killer Whale and floated in outer space- not possible in RL! I also rode a cat. I know it is weird but I clicked on the cat and it didn’t say pet, it said ride, so I did.

Just like in RL no one really wants to be alone and SL allows people to meet in all sorts of ways. Life should be an adventure and SL is a place where you can safely experiment with many things you would never do in RL. Most importantly, SL allows people to escape the confines of RL and not give up hope. Hope that they can control their world, or be what they always pictured themselves to be.

I have mixed feelings about Second Life. It is exciting and new to me (I signed up earlier but just got my hands on a computer that can handle the graphical demands). At first, I was embarrassed to be a "noobie," but I have come to think that is alright. I am not worried about being the last person to discover SL. I am not interested in getting tattoos, or having wild outfits. I don't want to be scary or engage in virtual sexual encounters. I just want to use it to further my RL pursuits. Meet with other educators and work to make learning fun for students. And maybe have fun doing it.

I am very interested in experiencing some of the community and sharing experiences of the environment. SL has a wonderful ability to virtually bring people together. But I do worry about the "Dark Side" of SL, because it is out there. I haven't seen it but I must confessed to being amazed yesterday when I was shopping for free things and a woman avatar suddenly apeared in front of me and was completely naked. As her skin rezzed in, I could make out remarkable detail. It was disturbing, interesting... confusing. The closest thing I can compare it to is when I was about 8 and I first saw my sister's naked Barbie. It was not what I was there for and yet I was easily distracted. Next time it won't be new to me, but I will be staying away from the R and X rated "Pose Balls."

Another interesting thing about SL is that the avatars are personalized. You can make it look like anything you want. You are probably guessing there are not too many ugly avatars, and you would be right. Mine is boring. I have a couple of t-shirts and I wear shorts and sandals. Just like if it was summer in RL for me. I did decide to make myself taller the other day, but for some reason I almost feel like it is wrong to present myself far from reality. I will be fixing that the next time.

There are many things that I am trying to get a handle on in SL. At least I have a couple of friends "inworld." I will be curious to see what direction this SL exploration will take me. Maybe I will get myself some bling that is all sparkly, like a watch. I have always wanted some bling in RL but my wife won’t let me get any. Of course, in RL I wouldn’t actually wear it, I just like to ask because it bugs her!

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