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That's me!
I thought that since this story was extremely interesting, and involves me if only tangentially, and hasn’t gotten much exposure except for two items on the obscure “official Second Life weblog”, I would mention it here. :)

You should read the case study for details, but in the last few months them wacky IBM folks have had a couple of significantly big meetings of wacky technical people in Second Life (once because it seemed like a cool thing to do, and the second time because the first one worked so well and there was travel money to be saved). I was involved just a little, since my day job was very busy; I made a couple of little builds (one multi-sim tour-floaty that I’m rather proud of) and gave general advice, and poked my nose in just to say Hi now and then. Certain other folks in my general social circle were considerably more active in the whole thing.

And as it turned out, it worked great! Now I’m a Virtual Worlds addict of course, and a Second Life addict in particular, but even I was impressed by how impressed the AoT folks were by the whole Having a Conference in Second Life experience. I mean sure I’ve been saying for a long time that there are all sorts of tangible and intangible reasons that SL meetings are ‘way better than teleconferences or phone calls or really anything I can think of except for (expensive and inconvenient) face-to-face meetings; but seeing someone who was initially either a blank slate or an active skeptic experience the thing and come, very quickly, to actively agree with me on that is quite a thing.

Turns out what we evangelist types have been saying for all this time is actually true! :) Even though we still haven’t found the Killer App for virtual world collaboration, just doing pretty much the Same Old Thing (sitting in a room, looking at mostly static mostly 2D visuals, and talking) in a virtual world really does work. And you can save a few hundred thousand dollars compared to the only thing that works any better…

(Oh yeah, and that’s me very very tiny in the picture on Page 6. At least I’m pretty sure it is.)

hi! hru doin today?

At my RL office the other day some bit of my computer was working wrong, and I put in a Help Desk thingie about it, and a mere few days later I got an IM (well, the RL equivalent) from someone I didn’t recognize.

some guy: hi

I sort of sighed and replied

me: Hello!

Things did not get much better after that

some guy: hru doin today

Took me about ten seconds to figure out what that meant…

me: I’m fine, thanks

some guy: this is someguy from the help desk, about your ticket number 36645/J

me: okay

some guy: wd this be the right time to call u

I assured him it would be fine (this took another couple of interactions, whose details I will spare you), he called me, led me through a few obviously-futile attempts to figure out what was wrong, and eventually told me I should try reinstalling the thing that wasn’t working.

I was thinking, after that was all over and I was waiting for my computer to restart after having uninstalled the thing in preparation for reinstalling it, about IMs in general, and various approaches to them.  This particular one would have been vastly more efficient if he’d just doven right in:

some guy: Hi, this is someguy from the help desk, about your ticket number 36645/J; the first thing you should do if you haven’t already is to reinstall megawhozzis because that usually solves the problem and even if it doesn’t at least it means I can close your ticket fast and get my statistics up kthxbai.

I would have preferred that quite a bit, really.

There’s another person at work, who I know slightly better, who similarly always starts IMs by sending “hi”, or “Dale”, and waiting for me to reply before saying what it is that’s up.  I will sometimes come back from getting coffee or something to discover that she said “hi” like ten minutes ago, and now she is offline, and she hasn’t sent email, so I have no clue what it was she wanted.  Whereas if she’d asked her question right off there I could have like emailed her with the answer.

I suspect people like this are wanting to be friendly, and feeling that just launching into the topic at hand without saying hi, and hru doin, and like that, is somehow rude or impersonal.   But I, at least, don’t mind it at all.

I mean, if you’re my friend, and you just want to hang out in IM and chat about nothing, or start up some juicy gossip or whatever, starting slowly is just fine.  I like talking to my friends for its own sake.

Dales Friend: hi!

Me: Woot, hi!  Whatever is up?

Dales Friend: my motorcycle is on fire!  and jennifer is naked!

Me: huzzah!  Can I come watch?

Friends are also welcome to launch right into the subject if any, of course, or to use any other opening that appeals to them (my friends can get away with just about anything).  So these are all just fine:

Another Friend pounces Dale from behind a tree!

AThird Friend: What was the name of that lute-maker, again?

YetAnother Friend: Heya!  Come help us build this carnivorous bunny!

With people I know less well, though, where we don’t (yet) enjoy just interaction for its own sake, I’d rather we always got right to the point.  “hi” isn’t very efficient.  I’d much prefer, say:

Some Stranger: hi!  you don’t know me, but I saw your name on the wiki as a scripting helper and i want to ask you about scripting.  mostly i want to know how to make an object turn colors.  i don’t have much money so I can’t pay yu but i can give you gift certificates from my store where i sell brightly colored spheres.  please im me back, thanks!

just ’cause, y’know, it gets it all out into the open all at once.  (And, as a pedant, I’ll probably be even nicer in my reply if you spell and punctuate and capitalize and stuff, although I do realize that many people apparently come to SL explicitly to get away from that set of rules.)  Also good is:

Admiring Stranger: Hi, you don’t know me, but I just wanted to mention that you’re the most admirable person ever!

Random pouncing and stuff, come to think of it, is also quite a bit better than “hi”, even from strangers.

Unusual Stranger pounces Dale although you have no idea who I am!

Me: How novel!  What’s your sign?

So that’s my recommendations for today: if you have something relatively boring to say, or are asking me for something, get it over with quick and don’t bother with pretend pleasanteries (and literacy gets you bonus points).  On the other hand, if you’re aiming to amuse me, knock yourself out.  :)