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Was it the t-shirt?!?

Grapho is the one who created all the avatars for Burning Life. They really do fall into his domain of expertise: They are dark, textured, evocative of unconscious things. So, he has been spending a lot of time in-world lately. Now, there are some remarkable things to do with his prolonged presence. One is that no matter how often his name gets mentioned in all the note cards and no matter that his name appears on every single prim and inventory item, almost everyone he has encountered refuses to believe that he actually made these avatars. They all think that I (Alpha) made them. Or that I made them as Alpha. Whatever... In fact, when he tried to convince a group of people that he was the designer, all he got for his efforts was a "nice try, Grapho!"... !!! Don't people look at prims anymore? It is how I do all my shopping - by looking at prims! So, what is going on here, I wonder?

Second thing that happens is something that I have actually written about before: Whenever Grapho makes an appearance the women come flocking in! This is the strangest thing and in fact tonight Bettina and I discussed this, how forthright women seem to be in showing their sexual interest - far more so than men, we both concluded. When I (Alpha) log in no one gives me a second glance - which is to be expected, since in the looks department I am really nothing to write home about. However, Amina and Xia who are both really good looking do not seem to fare much better either. (And do good looks really matter? Please read on!) Not so with Grapho: We have female customers making return visits to see the guy. It has happened more than once that I or one of the other girls got asked where he was? He hadn't been around in a while? Did we know why?

But this in not the real reason as to why I am writing this post. At least not directly anyway... What has got me thinking here does not only have to do with Grapho but also with his t-shirt. He got this a while ago; it is just a crusty old freebie with horrible seams but nonetheless he totally loves it:

If you have a tendency to take yourself too seriously the text on this thing could very well insult you, or put you on the defensive I suppose...

And today Grapho did in fact have an encounter where he managed to put another person very much on the defensive - to the extent where things got somewhat out of hand. I saved the chatter and re-examined it carefully afterwards: Nothing that he actually "said" is even remotely offensive. Really it isn't! So why did this happen? Could it be the t-shirt? Worn by a scowling, tall man, towering over the person he was talking with? Bettina also pointed at his long hair when I told her about the encounter later in the day. So maybe that too. And the hawk nose? The crooked face. Slanted small eyes. Grapho is becoming rather good looking. And furthermore he is slowly becoming good looking in a not-conventionally-good-looking sort of a way. He is very tall and thin and long limbed and bends over ever so slightly. Gangly, I guess the word is. So, not a run of the mill, cute baby faced, muscle packed dude but someone who may well be intimidating through his ugly-beautiful presence. And furthermore wearing a t-shirt which has a condescending sort of a message written all over it!

Had it been me, with my ears and tail, would the exchange have developed in the same way? But even more to the point, would I have expressed myself in quite the same way as Grapho did? During his very early days I had Grapho talk in a deliberately uncouth manner. It was a very clumsy act of trying to adopt a different persona. Nowadays I don't do that any more. Grapho talks exactly like I do. Or so at least I think. But does he really? As I was reading the chatter I noticed a different tone. Very subtle, but it is there. More impatient. Again, nothing he said was upsetting in and of itself. But what he said - it comes out ever so slightly differently. A bit more akin to the t-shirt perhaps. Not even that. Very hard to explain... It is this hardly tangible difference which I have noticed in the alts of others but was not aware of where my own alts were concerned. But, nonetheless it is there... Almost impossible to pinpoint what it is and how exactly it manifests - but there.

Nick Yee has conducted a study which he calls The Proteus Effect. And what he proves is that avatar appearance affects behavior and all social interactions and emotional responses. Indeed, so powerful is the impact of appearance on behavior and communication that, according to Yee's findings, the way an avatar looks does not only carry major significance while one is in "the game" itself, but in all subsequent physical/RL interactions between the interacting agents. I had a gut instinct that this was so long before I had ever heard of Yee's paper. Reading it made me yelp out in joy since he was really proving a thing I had always known to be true.

Is this what happened with Grapho today? I am fairly certain that it is. What he said was not anything that would have provoked a hostile response. The way he looked and stood, compounded by the stupid rights t-shirt however could have done so and, I think, did...
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Truthseeker strikes again!

I am really in over my head! Doing too much all at once, for one thing. I am doing Burning Life. I am writing a book chapter for an academic publication which I am supposed to submit for review by the 12th. But, the one that totally terrifies me is this next one coming right up: Solbedoz Janus is a senior designer at Bell Labs as well as being a hardcore SL resident. He contacted me a while ago and asked me to participate in an event, to which back then I merrily said yes!?! !!! Yes??? As in yesss??? I really do need to get my head examined over here, don't I?

So now, as the time approaches I am buried in engineering journals trying to put together a more or less plausible presentation, at least one that will not get me laughed off the lectern halfway through by a room full of telecommunication specialists: I am an invited speaker at Bell Labs in Antwerp on the 20th to give a talk on the impact of virtual worlds on the future of communication strategies... And don't laugh - please! This is sooo not a joking matter from where I am standing - you have no idea!

I logged into SL for a hot minute just now and ended up having a brief conversation with Truthseeker in which all this somehow came out. And here it is folks:

[13:59]  Alpha Auer: and next thing - boing!!! i get this invite
[13:59]  Truthseeker Young: wicked!
[13:59]  Alpha Auer: if it was a regular thing - then yes
[14:00]  Alpha Auer: but apparently they want to discuss methods and strategies to communicate for the future
[14:00]  Truthseeker Young: oh cool!
[14:00]  Alpha Auer: bell labs = telecommunication
[14:00]  Alpha Auer: and they figure that virtual worlds will be a major thing then
[14:01]  Alpha Auer: but this is WAYYYY out of my depth
[14:01]  Alpha Auer: it is hardcore engineering stuff really
[14:01]  Truthseeker Young: yeah but there's always gonna be a social layer
[14:01]  Alpha Auer: *sigh*
[14:01]  Alpha Auer: his words exactly
[14:01]  Alpha Auer: hhhh
[14:01]  Truthseeker Young: hahahaha
[14:02]  Truthseeker Young: I just think of spaces like SL as training grounds for all that augmented reality tech that everyone's promising these days
[14:02]  Alpha Auer: again
[14:02]  Alpha Auer: his words
[14:02]  Alpha Auer: almost verbatim
[14:02]  Truthseeker Young: well, see? totally up your alley as well, then
[14:03]  Alpha Auer: but those engineers are gonna pelt me with rotten eggs and tomatoes
[14:03]  Alpha Auer: if i show up there talking airy fairy stuff
[14:03]  Alpha Auer: so i am reading up like a maniac
[14:04]  Alpha Auer: in fact i need to log off and read!!!
[14:04]  Alpha Auer: like NOW!
[14:04]  Truthseeker Young: heh alrighty
[14:04]  Alpha Auer: so i will see your house ASAP
[14:05]  Alpha Auer: (if i am still alive by then)
[14:05]  Alpha Auer: in fact if you pray or something add me in
[14:05]  Truthseeker Young: you got it
[14:05]  Alpha Auer: i'm an atheist unfortunately
[14:05]  Truthseeker Young: lol
[14:05]  Alpha Auer: so i need to ask others
[14:05]  Truthseeker Young: yeah but all that alchemy stuff actually WORKS
[14:05]  Alpha Auer: it does
[14:06]  Alpha Auer: hey! maybe i will tell them of my rejuvenation spheres!!!
[14:06]  Alpha Auer: now THERES a thought!
[14:06]  Truthseeker Young: there you go. they'll love it
[14:06]  Alpha Auer: ok kiddo
[14:06]  Alpha Auer: byeeeeee!
[14:06]  Alpha Auer: i really gotta scoot
[14:06]  Truthseeker Young: even tho they may express that love in silent, unsmiling stares
[14:06]  Truthseeker Young: ok go read!
[14:06]  Alpha Auer: hhhh
[14:07]  Truthseeker Young: :0
[14:07]  Alpha Auer: i am so gonna save this in a notecard!
[14:07]  Alpha Auer: !!!!
[14:07]  Alpha Auer: bye!!!!
[14:07]  Truthseeker Young: see ya
[14:07]  Alpha Auer: funniest thing i heard in ages!
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The Who (again!) and Queen

Students can be such demanding little critters...

For some unknown reason the nosey parkers are still snooping around in my blog it seems - and this despite my strictest instructions to the contrary! I thought that I had made myself abundantly clear more than a year ago when I pointed them in the direction of the great urban outdoors, of which there really is no lack of at all in this city; rather than sitting at home perched behind their screens reading the ramblings of their boring old instructors!

Alas, absolutely to no avail...They are still in here! So anyway, I was cornered by a few of them on the service shuttle coming back home into the city the other day and they wanted to know what my top 10 favorite songs by The Who are. There is, of course, no easy answer to such a question, so I begged for some time to give the response the utmost attention that it needs. And here it is  - my Top 10 The Who songs list (I think):

1) Who are you?
2) Guitar and pen
3) They're all in love
4) Slip Kid
5) Won't get fooled again
6) New Song
7) Squeeze Box
8) In a hand or a face
9) Empty glass
10) Behind blue eyes

Except here's the problem with this list: First I have had to leave out things like "Eminence Front" and "However much I booze"! Being limited to just 10 that is. Second, I love all these songs equally.

They also wanted to know the same thing with Queen. (I can hardly believe this but apparently they actually listen to these bands! Love them! These songs were written a long long long time before the oldest of them was even born!)

With Queen, the answer is somewhat simpler. I feel that Queen albums need to be listened to in their entirety. Like The Who opera albums in a way. So, it would be very tough to make a list there.

Also, with Queen I love their stage presence almost as much as the music they make and the two things are really more or less welded into one whole in my mind. And again, although when on stage they arranged the flow of the songs into different sequences than the ones of the albums, there still seems to have been a deliberately orchestrated continuity in the way the songs got seamlessly blended into one other. Also visually, I should add. When I listen to them, in my mind's eye I "see" Queen as much as I "hear" them somehow. The most money I have ever spent on a concert ticket was for a Queen concert. And nowadays I love to watch all their concert DVD's over and over again. The cockiness, the humor, the imagination, the sheer unabashed in-your-face drama of the man... But, all that said, if you still want to push me up against a wall with a gun, I will say "We will rock you" (of course), "It's a hard life", "Who wants to live for ever", "Brighton Rock" - and then finally... My all time anthem:

I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now!!!

You couldn't possibly have phrased that any better than you did Freddie... (I know he wasn't the one who wrote the song, Brian May was - but...)