Second Life MetaFilter group June 11, 2009 3:08 PM   Subscribe

I noticed from Projects that we have at least a few Second Life-savvy MeFites, but no real MetaFilter-focused presence in SL, so I went ahead and made us a MetaFilter SL group. Come join, message me in-world if you have any questions, and if you're nice I might even give you a teleport to a sneak peek at a little virtual MeFi anniversary surprise I'm working on. (Just search for my handle, same as on here plus an "Oh.") The group's also open to members of other MeFi-related communities, for which I will even make custom group tags on request. (Monkeys, Bunnies, and IRC lurkers join in!) If anyone here isn't an SL resident but wants to be, I'm sure the group will be happy to give you a welcoming walkabout. Or at least I will.

Oh, and in before "get a first life."
posted by brownpau to MetaFilter-Related at 3:08 PM (32 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

I can't wait to convert virtually all of my on-line ramblings into literally virtual on-line ramblings.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:19 PM on June 11, 2009

get a fi... dammit.
posted by boo_radley at 3:22 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

(Monkeys, Bunnies... join in!)

Fucking Second Life and fucking furries, man. What's up with that, anyway?
posted by dersins at 3:25 PM on June 11, 2009

Monkeys & Bunnies, living together... Mass hysteria!
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:26 PM on June 11, 2009

get a fi... dammit.

posted by gman at 3:35 PM on June 11, 2009

I know this. Is it...Ghostbusters II?
posted by misha at 3:35 PM on June 11, 2009

It's a Unix System. I know this.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:37 PM on June 11, 2009 [5 favorites]

I know less about this than you could possibly imagine.
posted by arachnid at 3:54 PM on June 11, 2009 [7 favorites]

I tried Second Life once, but I lost.
posted by ODiV at 4:03 PM on June 11, 2009

Metafilter on Second Life- oh my! Jessamyn, Mathowie, and Cortex could even make avatars based on the Metafilter Comic!

Next up: Metafilter on Furcadia!
posted by dunkadunc at 4:07 PM on June 11, 2009

so I went ahead and made us a MetaFilter SL group.

What have you done in my name?!
posted by DU at 5:04 PM on June 11, 2009 [3 favorites]

In all honesty, second life gets a pretty bad rap from a minority of its players.
posted by boo_radley at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2009

I'm not sure it's the *minority* of its players, boo_radley (and I'm not sure they realize they're playing)...

...but then again, I'm in what is probably one of the few departments in the country where they not only offer a class in/on/about SL, they also occasionally have a prof that requires assignments to be completed in SL. My bitterness is unbounded.
posted by librarylis at 6:14 PM on June 11, 2009

brownpau oh: why wont you join our metafilter group?

davejay farquart: i am far too busy trying to live the life i already have

brownpau oh gives you a bonus life

davejay farquart: \o/ yaaaaaaaaay

posted by davejay at 6:29 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Wait... I thought MetaFilter was already my second life.
posted by not_on_display at 9:53 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

People actually use Second Life? I thought it was just there so that academics could wank about it being the next biggest thing...

Learn something new every day!
posted by purephase at 11:26 PM on June 11, 2009 [1 favorite]

Is this anything like being Born Again?
posted by Cranberry at 11:37 PM on June 11, 2009

I know that lots of people really enjoy Second LIfe, and I've been involved with it on and off for about four years.

There are occasional bright spots on the Second Life grid where someone is doing something beautiful or inspiring or educational or just plain fun.

Most of the rest of it is a depraved hellhole.

Second Life is overrun with guys in newbie skin with horse-sized freebie penises IMing every female avatar they see: "u want fuck"? Some of the largest "communities" in SL are the "Gor" regions, where the misogynistic sci-fi fantasies of John Norman are acted out by men pretending to be Gorean barbarians and other men pretending to be female Gorean slaves. If you manage to avoid that, you'll invariably encounter someone playing the "Bloodlines" game and offer to bite you on the neck so that you can bite other people on the neck and make their vampire clan more powerful.

The sexual degradation of women seems to be a powerful and recurring theme across the Grid. Second Life stands as a grim testament to human nature. Create a world where there's no death, no disease, no war, and you can literally do or be anything you like, and men will build castles and drag women around on leashes and call them "bitch".

The search system is approaching uselessness because people game the traffic system with bots; the highest search results are all either "free sex" rooms or giant markets where you can get free skins and shapes and clothing.

Every dance club is the same. All the events are "Best In _____", where the blank is a color or a theme (e.g. red, black, latex, etc.) They give away a prize of a few hundred Lindens (about $1 or $2 USD) as a reward for you staying i the club for a few hours to improve their traffic numbers.

Second Life seems to have devolved into two activities: shopping and sex. In that regard, they've created a remarkable simulacra of the real world. The shame is that the citizens of Second Life didn't choose to dream any bigger.

It is not my intention to rain on anyone's parade, or to denigrate the intentions of any of my fellow MeFites who play on the SL Grid. My experience with y'all has shown me that Metafilter is generally a cut above the general population.
posted by DWRoelands at 5:45 AM on June 12, 2009 [4 favorites]

What else could you do in SL? Does it support a procedural object system or physics engine or anything? (I know next to nothing about it.) If not, you are pretty much limited to human-human interaction, which, yeah, means you end up with a porny soap opera.
posted by DU at 6:00 AM on June 12, 2009

Having now reminded myself that yes, SL supports that stuff, I retract my question. Also, people pay $N/month to watch blocky characters having simulated sex? They know about Google, right? (I realize a lot of users don't pay a fee, but it still doesn't make sense that you'd have to have all this CPU power and time for lowrez porn. It's like buying a Wii to play Leisure Suit Larry.)
posted by DU at 6:13 AM on June 12, 2009

It's like buying a Wii to play Leisure Suit Larry.

You say that like there's something wrong with it.

...I mean, there is, but you say it that way, too.
posted by owtytrof at 6:18 AM on June 12, 2009

I find SL interesting though I don't have time to participate, but I wanted to mention that this "they also occasionally have a prof that requires assignments to be completed in SL." makes me concerned about the LIS profession. I think it's a super idea for people to have experiences interacting with patrons in alternative environments for reference and etc but as a librarian who knew someone else who had this similar issue [was this at UNC?] I'm still not totally sure this is really the way to move forward. I'll be curious to look at this a few years down the road and see how it all looks from there. Carry on.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:19 AM on June 12, 2009

Second Life went free-to-play some time ago.

As a free account, you don't get the weekly stipend and you aren't given any land, but the whole grid is otherwise open to you.
posted by DWRoelands at 6:20 AM on June 12, 2009

concerned about the LIS profession

I am lead to believe there is a Library Studies professor at Simmons who is/was taking a sabbatical to spend the semester in Second Life.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:11 AM on June 12, 2009

Does anybody have any experience with OpenSim and running their own server?

I am a high school teacher who is thinking about setting up an OpenSim environment to have my students work in (I teach a Communications Technology course). For example, in a Photography unit, I would have my students take their pics (in meatspace) and then build a gallery to display them in in OpenSim.

Good idea? Bad idea? What else could I be doing with this?

(this question may eventually blossom into a full grown AskMe)
posted by davey_darling at 8:30 AM on June 12, 2009

Davey_darling, I think it would be more useful to teach your students the skills needed to develop a formal portfolio, electronic or physical. If you're feeling particularly ambitious, you could help them print/matte/frame their best prints. They'll get more mileage out of those skills than "build SL content," I suspect.

I used to use SL a bit, and I have to say that I don't "get" the appeal of the current generation of software beyond escapism. Use it to socialize? IM and email are more effective with less CPU burden. Play games with other people? There are lots of games that run in game engines that have much better mechanics and performance. Collaborate for work/community? IM/email/videoconferences work better at conveying expression. I understand why "/me does whatever" works in an informal context (IRC, IM, wherever), but I can't imagine it in a business context. Porn + Sex? RL is the killer app, there.

That's not to say that there aren't some interesting things going on -- the simpler-than-most-3D-software "building" tools strike a good compromise between ease of use and power, and there's a built-in venue to show off what you've built. At the same time, it will never look as good as a 3d rendering done in a "real" package, and the simplified tools don't offer a good transition path to "real" 3d packages (unless you really only want to model with primitive objects and booleans). Also, the "SL sailing" community has a pretty fleshed-out game engine for sailboat racing that works well enough to be enjoyable, though I think a purpose-built simulator would be more effective.

That said, meh, maybe I'll join up.
posted by Alterscape at 9:19 AM on June 12, 2009

I'm having avatar anxiety now. What would I be? Wrrd Grrl?
posted by lysdexic at 11:38 AM on June 12, 2009

On SL, I'm Theora Portland.

I recently visited 2nd Life in a workshop, and found some interesting areas related to education and books. You have to sift hard to find interesting content.
posted by theora55 at 12:13 PM on June 12, 2009

I'm in (Vyvyan Voom), although I'm not on very time.

It's kind of fun to look around...the sex and shopping got boring pretty fast, but there are funny, creative things to find. (And finding them can be part of the fun.)

I wish I could figure out how to build things and create clothing and such, but the learning curve is pretty steep and I keep getting frustrated.
posted by JoanArkham at 6:03 PM on June 12, 2009

Does it support a procedural object system or physics engine or anything?

physics engine yes. there's a fairly powerful oo-like scripting language that can be used to write some fairly crazy shit and which can (i guess, strictly speaking, must) be embedded into in-world objects. usually this is used to make them interactive, spawn other objects, and so on. some people have used this to implement procedural object generation, i've seen some fractal trees and automatic structure builders etc. there's actually a lot of cool stuff one can do with the scripting if one has the patience and inclination to learn a goofy, proprietary and seemingly unsupported language to make things that will go largely unappreciated.

the unfortunate reality of second life is good ideas, poorly implemented, and short-sighted decisions by the development squad and management. both the physics engine and the object-handling stuff is kind of crappy and subject to all sorts of flaky behavior and pitifully limiting constraints. most of the post-release development was about bells and whistles that make things sparkle and flash and wave in the wind, which certainly appeals to the user base, but there's some positive feedback looping going on there as well.

basically, there are some cool ideas, but the thing feels like it was pieced together from several disparate parts with some unfortunate choices in terms of architecture, and needs to be gutted and rewritten.
posted by sergeant sandwich at 8:02 PM on June 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

You know, it's a little sad -- reading the comments up there, I can't even disagree with most of them. There are still interesting people and neat stuff to be found, but you have to look a lot harder than you used to. I mostly fire it up once a week and hang out with some old, old friends that have been going to the same weekly show for years now. It's sort of like Cheers, but much less funny. :)

But, man, the first year or so was amazing. The population was incredibly intelligent, and you could fly up to practically anyone and be guaranteed an interesting conversation. Everyone was making stuff, learning the scripting language, learning how to model and build in 3D. There wasn't a lot of existing content, so SL only attracted highly intelligent and creative people who wanted to play with a giant Lego set. Most of the modern folks who start are much more ordinary, and since there's so much there that's already done, they can run around with their horse penises, rather than learning how to make one themselves.

When it was small, it was one of the neatest and coolest places ever done. The population was at least as smart as Mefi, probably smarter, and super friendly and interesting. Most early residents watched the rise of the adult material with great trepidation, and were quite critical. But, over time, the adult stuff has become very pervasive; it may even be the dominant force in the existing SL world.

At its base, it's important to remmber that SL is just a sandbox, a big Lego set. There are a lot of people doing things that you probably won't like, no matter who you are, but blaming SL itself for that is silly. It's not that SL is a bad idea -- it's a great idea, albeit technically flawed in many important ways. But people can be exceptionally banal and offensive in what they choose to create.

If you go in, as one of the local MeFi SL critics did, and explicitly try to tweak people, of course they won't react well. They may even kick you off of their property, shock of shocks. Like any other community, if you're there simply to mock them and feel superior, they'll do their best to chase you away. This does not mean you are actually superior.

I wish I could give pointers on where to go to find 'regular' people, but I'm just not active enough anymore to know. Brownpau will probably have good pointers. I KNOW that there are perfectly reasonable adults using the system, because I hang out with a bunch of them once a week. Surely, there must be many other groups that are similar. Sane and reasonable people tend not to attract as much attention, but I know they're still around. :)
posted by Malor at 12:15 AM on June 14, 2009

This is what I get for checking my Recent Activity irregularly...

...I think it's a super idea for people to have experiences interacting with patrons in alternative environments for reference and etc but as a librarian who knew someone else who had this similar issue [was this at UNC?] I'm still not totally sure this is really the way to move forward...

No, it wasn't at UNC. Or Simmons. It was one of the schools in California.

And I'm very convinced this isn't the way to move forward, but as far as academic libraries are concerned, I've noticed that those who are the leaders in this are frequently middle-aged; I don't know that many of the younger librarians who are enthused. My school, for example, has one proponent, rather well known in the field, and once she retires I think the emphasis will die down.
posted by librarylis at 2:49 PM on June 18, 2009

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