Block

Block

There was something otherworldly about it….

(Submission to the Single Frame Stories thing, for the prompt “Block” announced here.)

And yeah, it’s a bit of a geeky in-joke. :)

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I’m in a podcast AGAIN!

Random cute podcasting iconLong-time readers will recall that several net-decades ago I entered an audio of myself reading a 100-word story into one of Crap Mariner’s podcasting Weekly Challenges. (I think I actually won that week, too; very validatin’.)

Well, for no discernable reason, I have done it again! (At this rate, by the year 2100 I will have produced, well, several of these.)

In truthness, I think I mostly did this one because I was driving along somewhere and started talking to myself in funny voices since I was alone in the car (you do that, too, right?), and I remembered for some reason what the theme of the weekly challenge was, and a story sort of (what?) precipitated out.

Anyway, I kinda like it.

Go over and listen (or read), an’ vote for whoever you like. Or not. :)

These are still pretty much the only podcast I ever listen to. (And even these are kinda long, at over 30 minutes, since there are N stories all being read in the same podcast, for N small but greater than two.)

AFK: the novel

I don’t know if this has been All Over the Blogs yet or not (I’m so out of touch), but it certainly should have been. AFK, a novel by Huckleberry Hax, is a wonderful combination of noir PI novel, spot-on picture of at least some aspects of Second Life, and impressively insightful musings about virtual worlds and what we do in them and why. It’s also apparently a NaNoWriMo novel, which just goes to show how well some people’s creativity responds to pressure and/or the lack thereof! (It also means it’s nice an’ short.)

I could go on, but I won’t; you should just read it. It’s a free PDF download, and also available on atoms for RL money via print-on-demand (I’m gonna try to figure out if the author makes an actual profit from sales, and buy one if so). I don’t know anything at all (I don’t think) about Huckleberry Hax or his or her history, or this novel, or anything, so this weblog posting may be years late or embarassingly inappropriate or something, but I don’t care. I just had a great reading experience, and I wanna share… :)

Edit: yeah, “years late” is appropriate; turns out it appeared in 2007, but hey! The author has a post your comments post, where you can post your comments. So (assuming you read it and have comments), do that!

Thoughts on a third-rezday plummet

Height 300 by ceoln, on Flickr

Just me and the sky and a prim

When I first came to Second Life, three years ago last Sunday, I was mostly intrigued by the idea that you could make things there, in this “virtual world” where the laws of physics would be perhaps kinder, and more mutable, than in the real world.

Although we all know that the difficulty of The First Hour Experience is one of the Big Problems with the platform today, I wasn’t a victim of it: I was hooked after about ninety seconds. A whole, and apparently pretty large and complex and random, world to explore, without having to drive anywhere or get dressed or even get out of bed! And (see above) where anyone could just stick out a hand and build random things! Amazing!

For awhile I and/or it was crashing so much (you kids don’t know how easy you’ve got it these days!) that I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to stand it, but it and I got used to each other, and I stuck around.

It’s been a fascinating three years. As I say probably far too often, I came for the building and scripting and stuff, but stayed for the people. I still love the building and scripting, but I’m pretty sure that I spend less time on that than I do on talking to friends, dancing in clubs, meeting new people, and generally hanging out.

There is for obscure reasons a tradition in some subcultures of Second Life, that involves leaping naked from the sky, holding an umbrella, on one’s rezday.

How sure are we about this?

How sure are we about this?

So there I am, again ‘way up in the virtual sky, on a slightly more sophisticated virtual sky platform (my floating rocks build, which is still up there over the Hughes Rise park), with my virtual umbrella, pondering the drop.

It really is a significant drop, isn't it?

It really is a significant drop, isn't it?

This would be a good place for Deep and Significant Thoughts about Second Life, virtual worlds, the real world, the nature of consciousness, and so on. If any thoughts like that come to me while I’m typing here, I’ll try to pass them along. :)

Being Dale has, I’m about 100% certain, been a good thing for me. And continues to be. Different people have very different attitudes toward, relationships with, their virtual selves. For me it’s pretty simple: I am Dale Innis. Saying that I identify with my avatar is as much of an understatement (and an overstatement) as saying that I identify with my RL body. (Much more on that thought here.) My Second Life friends are friends of mine, just like my First Life friends are friends of mine. I don’t necessarily know where my SL friends live in RL, or what they do for a living, or whether they are married or have children; but since I can’t remember that sort of fact about my RL friends for more than five minutes either :) that’s not a very large consideration for me. The main difference, really, is that it’s so much easier to visit the SL ones.

Completely naked?

Completely naked?

(Yes, completely naked; don’t complain to me, that’s the tradition.)

I continue to think, as I said all those years ago, that when we eventually look back on these very early days of virtual worlds, we will see it as the beginning of a huge and important change in the ways humans live their lives. Exactly what that change will be, I don’t pretend to know. I used fiction to speculate about it some back in Meaties; I like that story quite a bit (he said modestly), and it’s one possible answer to that question. It might even be something like the right one; time will tell.

It's pretty chilly up here.

It's pretty chilly up here.

Lots of people that I know in SL, and even more people that I know of, have been talking lately about the Good Old Days of Second Life, and how it’s going downhill, and the best parts are over, due to some combination of floods of newcomers and ‘bots, bad media reporting, stupid and/or malicious actions by Linden Lab, drama and trollishness, personal burnout, and whatever else.

I do sympathize with the feelings, and I am often puzzled by how completely clueless Linden Lab seems to be about communicating at least with the more engaged and articulate and clued segments of their customer base. I continue to attribute it to organizational randomness rather than to any self-destructive attempt to drive customers away, or even a desire to replace unruly individual customers with large wealthy better-behaved corporate ones (I think the Lindens would like to have both, and are just not all that good at communicating with the former).

And for myself, I’m still having a great time. :) I have my first real store-like things, I’ve been exploring lovely places and having adventures with friends, actually enjoying official organized events, and (of course, still, always) building random odd things (and things that build random odd things).

There have certainly been days and nights when I didn’t feel like going inworld; so I didn’t! But in general when the day is done and I have no more chores, and I can settle down into a comfy chair or bed with my laptop (yay, laptop!) on my lap, and fire up a viewer and find myself in my Park, or my Extropia pod, or wherever, and the IMs from friends, and the freebies from last night’s Midnight Mania boards, and the announcements of new Midnight Mania boards, and the scripting questions, and… all begin to flow in, and I open my inventory to decide what to wear and do some token inventory-sorting, it feels kind of like coming home.

Okay, deep breath...

Okay, deep breath...

Not that I’m knocking First Life; that’s pretty wonderful also. And when talking about Deep Things I think it’s a mistake for me to think of them as two different things. I have a life, and part of it is spent in Second Life, and part of it is spent in other places. And it’s all good. And, in the Spirit of the Season here in the US and A, I’m thankful for all of it.

One, two, three, WAHOOO!

One, two, three, WAHOOO!

In Second Life, I can be a boy, a girl, a panda, a child, a tiny elephant, or a bright shiny sphere. I can fly, I can walk under water, I can build a dirigible with my mind. I can meet people from countries I probably couldn’t find on the globe, and I can meet someone from down the street without knowing it. It has its share of people with issues, of griefers and trolls, of misunderstanding and even some cruelty, but well, that’s humanity for ya. I can build, create, explore, do art, try things out, experiment with my own shape and size and color and consciousness, and hang out and talk with other people who are doing the same kinds of things, and also very different ones.

That makes my life richer. Not my First Life, or my Second Life; just my life.

And not only mine.

Plummeting into the unknown future

Plummeting into the unknown future

So to my friends, my friends-to-be, my “would have been friends except we never actually both logged in at the same time”, and everyone else who’s made these last three years such a blast, and who will I’m sure do the same for the next three, five, seven, a million years, my warmest thanks, and if there’s anything I can do to help make your own journey more interesting and enjoyable, just drop me a line…

Bumper Snails and other wonders

The official week of Burning Life is nearly over for the year, but I think the sims and many builds will be up for another week, so here’s some more pictures of fun stuff. This time it’s all about things to delight your inner child, courtesy of the SL Kids.

There is a ton of fun stuff to play with, and play in, in and around Inner Child Camp. I went there the other day totally at random from the BL event listing, and saw:

Storytelling _ Inner Child Camp 2009, Burning Life

a wonderfully scary performance of a classic Japanese ghost story by folks from the Amatsu Shima Okiya school.

Then I wandered around finding other neat stuff (and you should, too!), including:

Waiting For Pippin - By Loki Eli, Burning Life

a wonderful house on elephant-back, full of stuff to delight the Inner Kid. (Creator Loki Eliot has a weblog.)

And finally (although it’s only a tiny fraction of the great stuff to find):

Wolveli Kas _ The Ultimate Kid Habitat, Burning Life-Vya

the Lightning Slime Ranch Proudly Presents: Bumper Snails!

Camp by Wolveli Kas (that’s her on the right), wonderful free snails by Flea Bussy of Grendel’s Children.

And there’s a great “Avatar Run” next door, also by Wolveli, with tubes and a maze and an elevator and prizes!

Woot! :)

I’m in a podcast!

Random cute podcasting iconSo… I’ve mentioned that I don’t really listen to podcasts. And then more recently I dove into a Kanomi comment thread in which she was noting the rather obnoxious tone of some other SL podcast, and which sort of reinforced my negative impression of podcasts in general, in that:

(A) I found the podcast (like every other podcast over two minutes I’ve tried to listen to) ‘way too slow-moving and content-sparse to be worth the time, and

(B) While I am assured by a mutual friend :) that the people in the podcast are really a bunch of perfectly nice people just sort of fooling around, they actually come off as sort of obnoxious jerks; my theory is that this is because people often feel free in a podcast to say whatever the heck pops into their head (and it seems to be against the cultural tradition to do multiple takes or editing or anything), whereas in text weblogs people do proofread and edit and have second thoughts and stuff.

(I really shouldn’t have said, in the Kanomi thread, that podcasts are a waste of time simpliciter; that apparently insulted at least one podcaster, and I didn’t mean to insult anyone. I just meant, of course, that they are in my judgement not a good use of my time. To each eir own an’ all.)

But so anyway. One of the discussors (discutants? is that a word?) in the debate was ol’ Crap Mariner, who I’d been vaguely aware had a podcast thing of some sort, an’ Crap mentioned that he has a short attention span too :) and that his podcasts are like under two minutes long and that sounded good, so (after a surprising amount of searching about) I came upon Crap’s 100 word stories, which is pretty fun.

I love microfiction!

I admit I still prefer reading the tiny stories to listening to them, for whatever reason. But the general idea is neat, and they do fit inside my tiny podcast patience, so I can listen to them and feel myself somewhat less podcast-ignorant.

And!

And Crap also has this fun weekly thing were there’s a theme / topic / prompt, and people are invited to compose and record their own 100 word stories on the theme and send them in, and one of them gets chosen as the winner (through I process I don’t really understand) and the winner gets to choose the topic for next week, and all of the submitted stories get put together with Crap commentary and posted as a podcast itself.

The theme for #169 was “That’s not thunder, it’s…”, which was sort of intriguing, and like I said I love microfiction, and anyway…

I wrote a 100 word story, and recorded myself reading it. and sent the file to Crap, with the result that my actual voice appears in it. And not too long in, since I think I was like the 3rd story, and Crap didn’t start seriously wandering off on tangents in his commentary and talking to his cats and stuff until about story 5 hahaha.

(Most of the stories are funny and/or involve farting and/or have music tracks and intros and stuff, and mine being just a semi-serious (and too quiet) a cappella reading of a semi-serious story, it doesn’t really fit in all that well. But hey is fun anyway!)

So if you want a rare opportunity to hear at least one of the voices of Dale Innis, check out Weekly Challenge #169 and listen to the podcast. Or just read the story; the text is up there too. :)

Meaties

When the negotiations were over for the day, Vystar and his team spread their wings and spiraled down out of the tree, landing on the enormous lily pad at the base as protocol demanded. With nods and whispers to each other, they each blinked out to their separate evenings. Vystar went a few thousand meters up and several regions west, floating in an undulating purple mist as he changed from avian form to something more relaxed, a curvy young woman with feathers for hair and long purple fingernails, dressed in cotton lounging pajamas.

She whispered to Patrice and Gentle Logan, to AnyFred and WhaTilde, and eventually was summoned to the latest version of the Sound Crystal Amphitheatre, suspended above an orange desert, where five or ten of her friends sat or sprawled on cushions in the crowd listening to a young dragon playing a citern and singing imaginary folk songs. Patrice had a new collection of semi-autonomous follower objects swarming around her head, and Vystar amused herself sending them little rushes of force and meaningless commands, just to see what they would do. Patrice stuck out her tongue, but was too absorbed in the music and some quasi-sexual exchange with a winged warrior to do anything about it.

The dragon finished his set to general applause and the launching of numerous color-rockets, Vystar fended off a pair of whispers from annoyingly persistent ex-lovers, and people had just begun discussing where to go next when she frowned and lay back in her ornate golden seat.

“Excuse me a moment, folks. Something happening Outside.”

Patrice crinkled her face at her, and Gentle Logan said, “Be careful”; Vystar’s eyes glazed over and her body relaxed.

He put down the controller and stood up from his lounge, blinking as he pulled his gaze away from the screen that covered half the wall. He flexed his arms and shoulders, opened and closed his hands, out of the healthy habit that everyone tried to cultivate when going Outside. The noise that had disturbed him continued, and he crossed the room to the window, a slightly pudgy pale man in undyed cotton pants and a thin shirt.

The room was small and spare, clean, subtly lit by indirect lighting. It contained only the lounge, the screen, the terahertz box, a selection of controllers and goggles, a small refrigerator in one corner, a door leading to the shared bathroom in the other. Vystar stepped to the single window, and looked down.

Down below, the usually empty street was half filled by a mongrel band of ordinary Outside humans, who walked or slowly drove battered-looking autos between the plain faces of the apartment blocks on each side, blowing the horns and whistles that had disturbed him, and waving signs.

“Come out and play!”, the signs said, “The Real World Needs You!”, and “Remember What Matters”. One of the leaders of the ragged march was a tall unnaturally fit-looking man that Vystar remembered vaguely having seen on an Outside feature on some news program; the former owner of a defunct automobile company, or newspaper, or something.

Slow and noisy as it was, the disturbance moved out of sound and sight soon enough, into what looked like an Outside evening. Vystar shook his head and went back to the lounge, rejoining the world to find that most of his friends were still there in the Amphitheatre, looking at the night’s list of public performances, debating the merits of the artists, remembering old adventures, making ridiculous hats.

“Back,” she said, stretching her legs and putting on a tall conical headpiece with a slowly-turning propeller.

“What was it?” Patrice asked, from under what appeared to be a squid.

“Bunch of noisy Meaties out in the Outside street. Having a protest or something.”

This was met with much laughter and rude noises.

“Walking right down the street?” asked Scarflame, a friend or associate or alt or something of Patrice’s.

“Walking, and even driving. Old automobiles! Can you imagine the carbon footprint?”

More rude noises.

“Meaties,” said Gentle Logan, the swirls around his horns expressing exasperation.

“Yeah,” said Vystar, shrugging her shoulders, “what can you do?”

Thanks to someone, maybe Ahuva, for pointing me at an article that I can’t find right now that suggested that, far short of brain-uploading, people might simply start leading sparse and spartan RL lives, because their virtual lives would be so much more interesting and rich. So here we are. This story is not intended to express any particular opinion, positive or negative, of the possibility…