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The chore to end all chores...

I have decided to embark on an absolutely dreaded task - yet again, I might add: Inventory cleanup! However, this time around not only cleanup but also organization and creating some kind of a system to easily identify what I have and where I may find it... A dire necessity at this stage since I am at the point where I am running around in the same pair of cruddy old jeans and t-shirt, not to mention the same old moth-eaten ears and tail, simply because I have so much stuff that I no longer know what I have, where it is or what it looks like.

I am two things: A hardcore builder and a hardcore shopper. So, inevitably I have a lot of stuff which I hang on to because I assume that it will come in handy at some point when I am constructing something. And then I buy other peoples output like it's going out of style: I love the stuff that so many of my fellow designers churn out and so I am keeping an archive of Second Life design output. Anything from hair to avatar attachments to clothes to cars and hoverpods and spaceship. These last I am not even remotely skilled at manipulating, but no matter, I get them anyway.

I have this idea that SL design is a hugely important endeavor which will have considerable ramifications on design output as well as design theory in the future, affecting the design of RL objects and even more importantly the underlying design strategies: I do believe the effects are already felt in fashion design but I am fairly certain that the fundamental tenet of SL design, which, as far as I can make out, is "playful creativity" will find its way into core design strategies regardless of what the thing to be designed may turn out to be.

So, it is isn't (only) blatant, unabashed, shameless, in-your-face consumerism when I rush out and purchase every conceivable object rezzed under the virtual sun, I really do have a professional interest here.

But interest, shminterest - I am stuck here with an inventory that is pretty much unmanageable. The funny thing is this: It turns out that I do not even have that much! I consulted Truthseeker on this little matter, wanted to know how many items were in his/her inventory which led to a general discussion during which I was informed that there were people out there with as many as 30000 items to their name! Me? I only have around 7000? And I am groaning under what I have? What do those people do for goodness sakes!? What do I do? Unless I really like something or think it will be really useful I have no compunction whatsoever at tossing it out on its virtual ear. Regardless of who gave it to me, I might add. I toss most (if not indeed all) notecards after I have read them, keep all LM's in one notecard, do not collect calling cards (I have never understood their purpose or significance anyway?!) and I do periodically stow not-totally-unwanted stuff in boxes which I keep as meta folders so to speak...
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Spoke to soon didn't I, back then when I called old Xia anal-retentive? But! I am so going to be teaching her highness how it is really done! I had followed up on Ravenelle's advice on one of her flickr posts about putting an image of the outfit into the folder for easy recall as to what the thing actually looks like. However, it seems to end up taking too long to render the image when one is actually in SL and extremely impatient to see it. And also, in my case, this seems to be a bit of a wasted effort since I usually cannot remember what a particular item was called to begin with and am thus stuck finding the image to look at. So, I have decided to develop this new system based upon spreadsheets (I am not a designer for nothing you know? They teach us this sort of stuff!) which will actually reside in my harddrive where I can access it with an image viewer. So, each spread contains thumbnails/names of the contents of a particular folder and also each spread is exactly 1920x1200 pixels, which is my screen resolution, so I can see the whole thing all at once. Naturally, it will go without saying that not all of the contents of a particular folder will fit into one spread, in which case there will be several named ...01, ...02, etc.

I have started where attention is the most needed: My hair. This is the partial content of my so called "object hair" folder, by which I mean hair which has some kind of an object embedded into it. I am packing away the ones that I am not quite ready to toss yet, but do not like so terribly much and everything that stays immediately accessible gets photographed and named. Once the object hair is cleared up, I will be proceeding to mohawks and so forth... And then to avatar attachments, of which I have tons - the ears and tails alone probably add up to gigabytes! And, needless to say, one does live in total dread of the boots folder(s)...

teeee heeee...

And once I am done in SL, I may even go and tackle my RL closet... Hmmmm, there's a thought... Would spreadsheets help there as well, I wonder?
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The Hong Kong Booty

I must say that I seem to have been remarkably reasonable in what I ended up accumulating on this trip: One reason for that is, of course, the fact that fitting into Chinese clothes would entail a lifetime of starvation and even then would probably not really work - the women here are absolutely tiny! Well yes, of course there are plenty of things for western monsters such as myself as well, but who needs those klutzy things? The outfits that I did like were diminutive...

Two bags: One a silver and black panda with extra long straps so that it can be slung over the shoulder and this utterly amazing grey porcupine thing on the upper right, where I think even the whackiest of neko designers would be hard pushed to come up with something crazier. This one is actually a backpack, which is just as good since I hardly ever use any other kind of bag anyway. 3 t-shirts: 2 Disney t-shirts (and yes, before anyone asks, of course I will be wearing them! What do you think?!?) and one Bruce Lee t-shirt! Love this one! It is huge, so one could even almost wear it as a dress. A belt, which to be honest is nothing too special, I could probably have gotten it back home as well, however it does have a very nice frayed texture - so? Why not? Two "bendy/twisty" segmented metal (sort of reptily) necklaces, which are great! A "white sheep" (as opposed to a "black sheep" (hhh) tie, which I originally bought for my brother in law, but I think I am going to hold onto it in the end since it really is very funny and I might wear it somehow. And then finally 2 pairs of chinese slippers/shoes and one pair of knit boots.

And that is really and truly it!

So yes, I have indeed been a statue of self restraint and am actually returning with a more or less half empty suitcase! Totally remarkable!
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Hong Kong: new faces, new insights

I am sure every idiot takes this photo from their hotel window, but no matter. Who says I am no idiot anyway?

I love the place! This despite my having the mother of all jetlags. God knows I travel enough long distances and I should know better. Melatonin makes me queasy so I decided not to take any on this trip and see if I could get to sleep by myself. Result: 2 nights of complete sleep deprivation. Last night I did finally manage to sleep, but woke up this morning with a sore throat and a bad headache. So, although there is a really interesting workshop on meaningful media today, organized by newly met colleague Gino Yu, from the Hong Kong Polytech University here, I have decided to stay in my room. I have my paper presentation at the actual TSC conference tomorrow and I need my wits about me - unlike yesterday (I am ashamed to admit), when I was at a one day conference on Social Approaches to Consciousness to which I had been invited by Charles Whitehead to make a presentation. I was completely out of it from fatigue; in fact, at one point it was so bad that I dozed off altogether. Yet even so, I heard some great stuff:

For one thing the presentation by Charles Whitehead himself on anthropological neuroscience. Nevia Dolcini, a psychologist from Italy (with whom I hit it off immediately over a stolen cigarette during one of the breaks :-), spoke on whether the recognition of the "other mind" was innate. Another really great one by Etzel Cardena on emotion and consciousness and also one by David Craik on cultural distortions of the "self" - some good insights into the shape shifter syndrome there. A paper by Robin Zebrowski on Cog, the MIT robot and Merleau-Ponty and then my favorite at the very end by Imants Barušs, in which he discussed the implications of a scientific study (survey) he had conducted on the meanings of the term consciousness, revealing a correlation between IQ levels and how a person's world view is defined on a scale from materialistic to transcendental values. Seems that the more a person is open to spiritual definitions the more curious and inquisitve/open to experience they seem to be and apparently also their IQ is ever so slightly higher. Not only did I like the contents of his talk but also the delivery of it, which was tongue-in-cheek, funny and mischievous. And indeed, when I got back to my room last night and rushed over to the TSC Ning to befriend all of these lovely new people I was extremely gratified to discover that Dr. Barušs is very kindly introducing us to his "lab-animals" on his photo feed there: A teddy bear, a floppy dog and Peter Rabbit! And then, David Craik also seems to be quite a pro at the game of playful hilarity, when he ended his already brilliant talk with the strict little homily to not to forget for even a nano second that we were nothing but a bunch of uppity apes pretending to be situated above our actual humble primate station in life, painfully apparent nonetheless underneath all our aquired paraphernalia of "culture". Wonderful!

And then, somewhere in there I stumbled through my own presentation on alpha.tribe and multiple creative identities and was gratified to see that they all seemed to think it was ok. In a gaggle of scientists I was not laughed off the lectern at least... Charles Whitehead even patted me on the back! Felt fabulous, I have to say!

I love these kinds of conferences, where one gets exposed to the output of professions like anthropology and psychology; other points of view, other approaches, giving one new insights and inspirations. I was in Tucson in 2006 at the TSC conference, where I presented a poster together with Yacov. And then I absolutely loved the CC07 conference of course - I hope to God I get in this year also...
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So, yes, I am very pleased to be here. I grumble to no end before I leave on any trip and more often than not, unfortunately, I hate the whole thing from one end to the other - can't wait to get back home. So far Hong Kong and TSC isn't materializing as one of those experiences. A lot of it does have to do with the contents of the event for which I am here and the city which is the background to the conference is wonderful! Not that I have seen a whole lot of it, mind you. Just a small walk in Kowloon where my hotel is and then the view from my window. But one does get a feel for a place, and this place feels good. My university has an exchange program with HK Polytech and if they ever want me to come over and do something here I will be on the first plane out. In fact, I will try to pick up the nerve and come straight out and ask Gino Yu at some point if he would like me to give a workshop on SL or something like that.

Meanwhile, my old student Sertaç and his wife Melike who live here will be taking me sightseeing later today, so now I need to rest a bit before I set out since despite all positive feelings, I still feel pretty lousy physically...
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