Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Return of the Attack of the Fifty-Foot Melissa

I was going to take a picture of myself in some business-appropriate clothing, and I happened to be standing on a large flat region in Northstar. It struck me that it would be a good place to try some more forced perspective, Northstar being a place where people play with scale, so I pulled out a sit pose...

Some sit poses will in fact sit you down. Others seem to presume you're already seated, so that if you play them while standing, you hover a few feet in the air in a sitting pose, which is just the thing for a forced perspective shot. I took an insanely high-resolution shot because I knew I would crop it heavily... and here's the cropped result.

P.S. A few days ago, I wound up in a place with extreme lag. The building and terrain beneath my feet took a long time to rez... and had I been quick enough on the draw, I could have taken a nice forced perspective shot in a standing position. I wonder if there's a pose that will leave on standing and hovering?

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One life imitates the other

There's a particular male shape, hairdo, and outfit I've seen a lot lately:
  • curly black hair in what would be an Afro if it were a lot longer
  • a beard
  • a yellow T-shirt
  • knee-length shorts
I don't know why it's been turning up so often, but it has.

Yesterday, I was trudging through a nearby shopping mall, and who should walk by but a man who I swear would be a twin to all those men I've seen with the above appearance in SL! Cue the Twilight Zone theme music...

Height revisited

Sure enough, it's not that simple. I left leg length at 100 when I tried to figure out the height function. There's definitely more than one parameter to that function, because when I ran the leg length slider to zero (i.e. minimum) as well as height, I ended up 4'7" tall.

So... should I try to figure it out myself, or take the easy way out and go looking to see whether someone has already documented it? :) I think I'll go looking.

I should build a simple grid on a sheet of plywood for this sort of thing, but instead I took a picture from what I hope is a good POV for reasonably accurate measurement, and used the convenient cursor position reporting in the GIMP to try to measure some things.

My height turned out to be 1050 pixels in the image, which maps to 86", since I'm 7'2" in my stocking feet (in SL!).

One can look up world record leg lengths, but it's harder to find out just what they're measuring. (The Guinness World Records web site gives no email address on their contact info page, probably figuring that having to actually write on paper and buy a stamp will filter out a lot of the riff-raff.) From some pictures and one web site for a model (Dji Dieng), it appears that what's measured is the "outseam," the distance from ankle to where the waistline of one's trousers would be. Of course, differing styles make that last bit kind of arbitrary, but I did my best, and think that my outseam comes to about 670 pixels, which maps to 55" (or around 140 cm in a rational system of measures), and inseam to 570 pixels, i.e. 47" (closer to 119 cm than 120 cm... BTW, those who argue that the metric system lacks the handy bits for estimation that the imperial system, based on lengths of random kings' feet or arms or whatever, supposedly has, should note that 10 cm is a hair under four inches, the "hand" that horse heights are measured in).

[UPDATE: I decided to trade in a little neck length for added leg length. Not much, though.]

Monday, March 26, 2007

Comments Revisited: Thank you, Natalia!

Natalia Zelmanov keeps an excellent blog. I've written about it before. Short form: she manages to post entertaining and educational entries daily. If you have any interest at all in making clothing, hair, or shoes, or want to preview the wonderful places she visits and from which she takes her inspiration, visit her blog.

This past Saturday, she posted a tutorial on clothes-making with GIMP... yay! That's one great thing; the other is that when I posted a comment, there appeared a CAPTCHA. I hadn't noticed that one could set that up; perhaps because in the options in blogger it's called "word verification." (Is that like spell checking? Something to do with Microsoft Word? Fortunately, there's a help button that explains its purpose.)

So... I now have "word verification" turned on, and moderation turned off. You needn't wait for me to get around to checking my email to post a comment, and I'm hoping it will suffice to avoid comment spam.

Thank you, Natalia!

[UPDATE: *blush* Vint Falken nudged me in this direction in a comment on an earlier entry, but I didn't go looking until I saw it in action. Shame on me for not going looking before now.]

Saturday, March 24, 2007


We went out for breakfast this morning in RL. A table or two over, I noticed an elderly woman with pale red hair piled atop her head. She wasn't scowling as such, but she didn't look happy. "Could that be Melissa at 70?" I asked myself.

(I have bought child and adolescent avatars so I can create pictures of what I imagine Melissa might have looked like at those ages... but I'll never age her. I don't want to get old. I want Ray Kurzweil's estimates to be pessimistic, so that I can count on being downloaded when the Singularity comes. I've lost enough of my capabilities, and I fear that it's downhill from here. I suppose that's part of the appeal of SL.)

Suddenly a younger woman approached and greeted her. Her smile was like the sun coming out from behind clouds, and I thought maybe getting older isn't entirely horrible.

Friday, March 23, 2007


If you read Mordecai Scaggs's blog (and if you don't, you should), you know by now that we are no longer partners. I wish him well.


It's really hard to completely replicate a photo in SL. The best I could do wasn't very good at all. Even with the aid of a pose, the position was off, and besides, construction in the area had continued! The first image above was taken before my latest fiddling with my sliders, and the second after. You can tell a little difference, but foreshortening hides a lot.

The best comparison, I think, turned out to not arise from an attempt to completely replicate a shot! Here we have two other pictures from Bryggen, taken in the same kind of chair, but with slightly different poses. Again, the first one is the earlier.

I think those really show the difference.

Da da da-da, da-da da DAAAAH (kalimba riff)

Yay! Hello, Johannesburg!

Actually, it turns out I've had a reader in Morocco, so this is really the second visit from Africa... but I'm glad to see another reader from that continent.

This just leaves Antarctica. Maybe if I write about how cute those penguins in Happy Feet were? :)

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Height Inflation

If you've read much of my blog at all, you know I love being tall and long-legged in SL. I'd be a giantess if I could, at least part of the time, and I'd make my legs several meters long if I could, at least part of the time.

So, have you ever wondered just what that mapping from "height" slider to height is? Armed with a device that will tell you your height, graciously given by my dear friend Cheyenne Palisades, I set out to determine the mapping. (*rolls eyes* As if it were difficult... Sorry for the phony suspense.)

Nearly as I can tell, for women at least it's

H(s) = .21s + 65 (in inches)
H(s) = .533s + 165 (in centimeters)

Now, I said to Cheyenne something like "Hey! I'll do some GIMPery and set up a split screen shot with my 'normal' SL self looking at myself at the average American woman's height of 5'4"!"

I will work on getting a split-screen shot set up, but strictly speaking, I can't do what I wanted to do, because if you're an American woman of average height, you cannot make your avatar look like you. You can't be that short in SL!

I have to think that LL has received complaints about this from those who are 5'4" or shorter and want avatars that resemble their RL selves. I wonder what the reasoning behind the height mapping is?

So, no wonder there's such height inflation in SL. I know when I was invited to initially fiddle with my appearance, there was no indication at all of what the height slider settings meant in absolute terms. It was just obvious that a larger slider value meant taller. Of course, I immediately went "Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead!" and ran it to 100... but I bet that if people knew at the start what the setting meant, they'd change their behavior and moderate their height.

Immediate counterargument: if that were the case, wouldn't they be rushing to scale back the first time they ran across one of those height-reporting devices? I don't know. I'd think that by then you would have seen other people, and would tend to want to fit in.

It might make for an interesting study by someone who knows what he or she is doing... which, for this field at least, leaves me out. :)

[UPDATE: there appears to be more to the setting of height in SL than I thought; stay tuned for further results.]

As promised..., but it is proving awfully hard to do what I wanted, namely replicate some earlier shots for easier comparison. I hope that LL will consider, and I will go ask about, whether the client can be made to save images in some way that stores some crucial information (e.g. my and my camera's position and orientation, where the sun is) that the client can later read and "reload" so I really can reliably reproduce a shot.

So, here we go...Caledon Tanglewood is a lovely place. Here, I admire a butterfly.

It's a lovely place to relax, too.

Speaking of relaxing, there's a wonderful hammock in Northstar well suited to relaxation.

So there you have it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Experiments in (dis)proportion

OK... I fiddled with the appearance sliders today, and discovered something that may well have been obvious to you, the reader, but wasn't to me: the height setting really does set your height, and therefore, if you adjust the length of some component of your body that contributes to your height, other things change length to keep the height you set.

So... I gleefully set "torso length" to zero (which really puts it at the minimum length, not zero; as they'd say in the math biz, the mapping is affine, not linear), and watched my legs lengthen while my height remained at 7'2" (or 188 cm for those of you with a rational measurement system). [UPDATE: make that 218 cm; all the more proof of the idiocy of the "imperial" system of measures.]

The results may be too extreme even for me; I'll give it some time to see. I remember reading an article long ago in which the author, while exploring some city, came across a club with a barker and two women outside luring customers in. The author described the women as "all breasts and legs." With prim breasts on, I have become that. I am amazed.

I hope to replicate a photo I've taken in the past to give a basis for comparison, but I will ultimately put some photos here for you to see the results.

Monday, March 19, 2007


I've been asked to allow anonymous comments here.

I will try this out as an experiment, but...
  1. So doing is begging for blog comment spam, in which people post pointless comments in order to slip in links to some web site. For that reason, I'll also switch on comment moderation, so that I have to approve comments before they appear, which also means...
  2. Legitimate comments will have to wait to show up, and I may be snowed under with attempts at comment spam.
If I start to see piles of comment spam, or moderation proves burdensome, I will revert to not allowing anonymous comments. I'm sorry if that proves problematic, but it's the best I can do.

A trip to Sparta

In conjunction with the release of 300, the movie based on Frank Miller's graphic novel about the immortal battle at Thermopylae, there is an incredible piece of work at the Silverscreen sim. There are four areas set up radially about a central region at which there was a press conference this past Friday featuring two of the actors from the movie.

One of the areas is a Spartan village, a gorgeous creation from Liam Kanno of V3. It's beautiful, but a little forbidding, with a chill wind blowing. If you look, you'll find two boxes there; they contain free Spartan clothing from Adam n Eve. They're beautifully done. Do check out the village and the clothing; were you to ask about the outfits, I'm sure they'd say "
ΜOΛΩΝ ΛΑΒΕ" (come and get them), but wouldn't put up a fight. :)

Fun with Google Analytics

I'm very glad I took Mordecai's advice and set up Google Analytics to track usage of this blog. It's fascinating to look at the "Geo Map Overlay" and see where people are reading, or more accurately, where the servers are that grab it for someone, presumably nearby, to read. (It's also embarrassing to see what a fraction of the count is from the server I use. Am I that narcissistic? I hope it's more that updating the blog necessarily forces me to look at it rather a lot.)

It's also a little scary to see how easily my thoughts turn to how to increase readership and coverage. "Gee, we had readers in Japan before, but none now. How can I change that?" or "I'm missing Africa and Antarctica..." (as if people there have nothing better to do than to read my blathering!). I wish I'd started earlier, so I would have more data to look for trends in... there, I'm doing it again!

I don't have a "market" as such. I am doing this for fun. Funny how quickly a little data makes me start to think like a TV network executive chasing ratings!

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Hello (hello hello...) Is there anybody in there?

Yesterday, I looked on the SL web page that shows which of one's friends are online. I noticed some of them, signed on, clicked friends to see about sending some an IM... and found that according to the client, I had no friends on the grid!

I figured I'd leave an IM queued... only to find that they magically appeared when I did that.

I'm puzzled. I hope this doesn't happen again.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Addendum Re: Prim Breasts

My posting about prim breasts has led to some new friendships, and I am very glad for them, and willing to share what little I know... but perhaps I should take this time to say: I'm no expert in the field. I can't make them, nor can I make tops for them. So far, I've only managed to adapt one set with built-in top to some clothing I wear.

For serious info, go to the makers, or to those with far more experience and skill in using them and making them look good than I.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

"I didn't mean to leave you half-oiled, Arlene!"

SL has been acting strangely since the downtime.
  • During my search for Gibson girl hair, hair kept getting stuck in mid-wear, so that it didn't appear, but I couldn't put on any other hair.
  • Today, that continued, and I had the problem of hair and other attachments moving to one's crotch when teleporting, too. (There was a ring with bling that was kind of embarrassing...)
Just now, shortly before the grid was switched to provide access only to Lindens, I signed on and found myself half-Ruthed. I had my skin and hair and dress... but my height and other settings weren't as I had them set. Rebaking didn't help, and I could click on "Appearance," but it didn't make any difference.

That was a bizarre experience. I felt like a child, and felt out of control. Mordecai and I started out to gather data for an article, and I feared that someone would see us and think we were involved in ageplay.

I hope that things are back to normal soon.

The Girl Who Would Be Gibson

It's turning out that the shape is not hard to come by. The hair, OTOH, is.


(Quoted text is from the Wikipedia "Gibson girl" article.)
The Gibson Girl was tall, slender yet with ample bosom, hips and bottom in the S-curve torso shape achieved by wearing a swan-bill corset; she was fine-featured, and achingly beautiful.
OK, that last bit is subjective, and I definitely need a bustle to be ample in some respects, but I think we're getting there, comparing this photo

with this photo of Camille Clifford, who Wikipedia says was probably "the most famous Gibson girl":

Hair, OTOH, is proving more difficult. There are "updos" to be found in SL, but so far I've found nothing that is anywhere near the "big hair" of the Gibson girl. I dare say that Victorian hair is an unfilled niche in Caledon.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Fashion wish list

Mordecai has started on a residence in Caledon Tanglewood; his delightful posts on the site and the work he's done are well worth the reading (and viewing the photos!).

I don't wish to cause a scandal, so I doubt I'll be wearing, oh, say, something like what I wore in Bryggen in Caledon! I already have several Victorian dresses, but I would dearly love to find the following:
  1. The dress worn by the Lady of Shalott in Waterhouse's famous 1888 painting. (To me, at least, it looks a lot like a houppelande.) The basics don't look very difficult... I will spend a little time trying to make it myself. Of course, the hair is important to the look, too. I'm hoping that's sufficiently period-independent that I can find it without much trouble.
  2. An outfit or outfits, and hair, of the style of the "Gibson girl." Her hair is a lot more specific to the time, I fear.
I'll be keeping my eyes open.

I am postprocessed!

As I've mentioned before, I've taken to posting photos I take on flickr. It's interesting to see the number of times people have looked at them, and the most-viewed ones are sometimes not the ones you expect.

In any case, Vint Falken, a fine photographer (and perhaps her own most gorgeous model!), took notice of one of my photos, and asked permission to postprocess it and put the result up. I was flattered, and of course said yes!

The result is in this entry of her blog, which I urge you to read if you have any interest in photography in SL. (And yes, I use the P-word, whatever flickr may think. Ha!)

Moment of Ruth

OK... during the scheduled downtime, I figured, "What the heck! I'll do my patriotic duty and try out the beta client." (Maybe this also shows signs of addiction...)

After some trouble (my computer's clock is wrong? I don't think so...), I finally got signed on. It was then I entered the Planet of the Ruths.

Essentially everyone is Ruthed, and most are naked. A few have put on barrels. I'm stuck half-rezzed, with the Gollum look one gets when one's skin isn't fully rezzed. Can't change clothing until my clothing and shape are fully loaded, and it looks like that will never happen, at least not before the main grid comes back up.

So... we've been coming up with ideas: Ruth Aid (could we get SL performers to sing for it?), remaking the Apple 1984 commercial with Ruths, redoing the Declaration of Independence ("We hold these Ruths to be self-evident...") and everybody just wishing they were ruthless.

I've crashed a lot. A very few people have rezzed and look like themselves. I envy them a great deal.

Is this what hell is like, I wonder?

[UPDATE: I did manage at one point to take off clothes, but never was able to put any on!

At one point, I went looking for a relatively unpopulated spot, hoping that I'd thereby get enough CPU cycles devoted to me to fully rez. It never happened... but I did inadvertently wind up in front of a building labeled "FREE SEX" with a fair number of people milling about. I suddenly burst into laughter at the thought of all the people who'd probably have loved to take advantage of it, but found themselves Ruthed... Oops. Then I left.]

Monday, March 12, 2007

Yet another Google feature

There's now a search option on the blog; you can either search Google as a whole, or search the blog in particular. (Gosh, I could have used that a few entries ago...)

Reactions, Part II

I got a couple of "ridiculous" comments over the past few days. I'd like to publicly thank Mr. Ridiculous #2, because he added a comment that was useful, i.e. that I'd not done a good job of matching skin color. It's surprisingly hard to do; something that looks good at sunrise may look bad at noon... and I wonder whether local lighting behaves differently for skin versus attachments, given a recent experience.

In any case, I've improved the match, I think.

[UPDATE: I've confirmed it; local lighting does behave differently. Up at the Bridge to Nowhere in Apollo, I had to set the skin of my prim breasts to dark gray to make it come close to matching my skin... but when I went elsewhere, they looked... dark gray. (Who'd've thunk it?) I switched back to something that looked reasonable in Huchu in the open at sunrise, noon, and sunset... but at the Welcome Center, suddenly my prim breasts looked almost as if they were metal glowing white hot, without a similar change to my skin. Aargh!]

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Scaggs Aeronautica

All those interested in SL aviation of the steampunk variety should take a look at Mordecai's new blog, Scaggs Aeronautica. It contains verbal and pictorial descriptions of many marvelous flying machines, full of the charm that exemplifies the steampunk genre.

Friday, March 09, 2007

Matthew Ebel on virtual tour

The Goddess and Banana Christmas music show this past year was a wonderful sequence of songs... including a gorgeous piece by Matthew Ebel. Ebel is a fine singer/songwriter/pianist whose podcast you should run right out and subscribe to, not just for his music but for other fine music and talk as well.

Why am I waiting this long after Christmas to mention this? Because I just got some email; Ebel is going on virtual tour of Second Life all this month. Check his website for dates and places, and check him out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

My (Second) Life and the Rush of Breasts

(Apologies to Brian Eno and David Byrne...)

When I initially set up my avatar, I made various choices that arguably conform to a conventional Western (or perhaps more specifically American) notion of beauty, or maybe even the exaggerated version thereof that some disparagingly label "Barbie." (And boy, did I agonize over it, at least for a while...)

In particular, especially if you've read my many references to Proposition 125 and Proposition 2072, my sheepish admission to running a certain slider all the way up, and my delight at buying cleavage, you know that I really enjoy being able to have large breasts in SL, once again verifying the wisdom of the title cut of The Shaggs' album Philosophy of the World. (You may be tempted to look for samples of their music. I should warn you that they are an acquired taste.)

While waiting for Linden Labs to move Prop 125 further along than "acknowledged," I've taken the plunge and started using a set of prim breasts from Rhenworks. They're nicely constructed and easy to use within (and because of) their limitations, since they have the (portion of a) top built-in. Here's a photo:

They're copyable, so it's possible to experiment and to retint/texture to work with the top of one's long one chooses one that works with them.

I've been wearing these for a while (and hope to start with a more sophisticated scripted set soon, alliteration not intentional).

So what's it like?

Well... of course, in many ways it's unlike RL. There are none of the back problems or skin problems. It doesn't affect one's center of gravity or otherwise impede one, though seeing one's arms sticking through one's breasts wrecks verisimilitude. (I'm still looking for a suitable typing animation override.) A very big difference: in RL, you can't right click and click "Detach." (Also, like prim hair, clothes, and shoes, prim breasts may take their own sweet time to rez. Keep a full top on.)

The big difference: despite the description below of reactions as a similarity, in SL this appearance is a choice made by an adult, reversible at any time. It's very different from not having any choice and growing up getting those reactions from one's peers/classmates (a group notorious for exquisite and relentless cruelty towards anyone who is different, and who pounce on perceived weakness like frenzied sharks sensing blood) as well as strangers.

In two ways, though, it's very much like RL:

Diffficulty Finding Clothes

SL clothing, apart from prims, is literally painted on your body, like those trompe l'oeil body paint jobs you see from time to time. Most attached things should not be painted over with clothing, since they're intended to show, e.g. jewelry... and I would bet that the pertinent part of the SL client code simply assumes that to be the case for all attachments.

Unfortunately, this means that prim breasts do not work and play well with SL clothing; you must build clothing out of prims and link it to them. (Rhenworks does this for you; other vendors set it up so you can do it yourself. Again, an ease versus flexiblity tradeoff.) All those lovely textures that the fine clothiers of SL painstakingly assemble... unavailable, at least the parts on the front of one's torso. Very frustrating! Also, the clothing one builds and links will only fit reasonably well with certain outfits.


One day, I was flung into a Welcome Area when SL couldn't put me where I wanted to be. It was actually kind of fun, aside from the outrageous lag, so I've gone back occasionally.

A lot of people say nothing. Some approach and ask questions out of honest curiosity ("Oooh, where did you get those?"). Replying with good humor or feigned innocence and working on the assumption that most people are good works very well (and maybe that's why I've had mostly good experiences with SL from the beginning, though part of it is that there's not much that would-be troublemakers can do to you, very much unlike RL!).

Sometimes I feel that I should paraphrase Al Capone--
you can get much farther with a kind word and enormous breasts than you can with a kind word alone. :) A conversation starting with the, um, obvious can turn to a chance to point a newcomer to New Citizens Plaza or information about Linux. (I didn't realize I was that much of a proselytizer!)

Then there are those unencumbered by subtlety. I can but say that muting is my friend.

Some German-speaking people may have thought I didn't realize what they were saying, but I could figure out some (with the help of the occasional obvious cognates). I suppressed the urge to reply "I like my ballast tanks, thank you very much!"

Back in the early 1980s, Bob Greene wrote a column about Morganna, the "kissing bandit." She said the rude behavior she got came from women--"That's disgusting!" (The column ended with Greene going home to his SO and telling her who he'd interviewed. "That's disgusting!" she said...)

I've gotten little to none of that, thank goodness, but OTOH... I've put up a number of pictures (mostly self-portraits, I'm a little ashamed to say) on flickr. In a number of them, I'm dressed rather skimpily, but nary a "Barbie" comment. Yesterday, I uploaded this:

and got the comment "Good to see people using SL to stamp out old-fashioned fascist beauty standards." Guess Godwin's Law applies to aesthetic discussion, too.

[UPDATE: Mordecai got a response to the message he mentions sending in his comment. Apparently the commenter in flickr thought I was being ironic and mocking the aforementioned beauty standards. Sorry... I'm not a very ironic person. I was just trying to take a good picture!]

So... was it worth it? I think so--I like them! I'll not be wearing them all the time, though. (I do hope to figure out how to adapt them to Victorian clothing...) With all due respect to the builders who make them, though, I hope they're just a stopgap until LL comes through on Prop 125. (Actually, just being able to mark selected attachments as things clothes should paint over would help a whole lot.)

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

We Take the Plunge

I've succumbed. If you scroll down far enough, you'll see a Google AdSense ad on this page.

I doubt that much will come of it... as I said before, I'm mostly curious about just what Google will put there as supposedly related to the blog content. Have any SL vendors signed up with Google, I wonder?

Saturday, March 03, 2007

Long Tails and Large Populations

There are two competing tendencies that seem to be at work in the world. Forgive me if I'm stating the obvious, but let me talk through this in public here.

Excellent, But Not Good Enough: Competing with the Whole World

Not all that long ago, communities were relatively isolated. Few people traveled far from where they were born. If you were the best at something in your town, say the best singer, you had a job. Where else would people go?

Time goes on, and communication and technology improves. Suddenly, people are exposed to not just all the singers in town, but all the singers in the state, the country, the world. With that vastly increased population, there are more at the extremes—far better than the rest, including you.

Not just at the extremes of the distribution of singing ability, but others as well... and the intersections of those extrema aren't empty, either. Oh, you're just the best violinist? Well, {Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vanessa Mae} are excellent violinists, and they're babelicious, too. (If you're male, plug in "Joshua Bell" and "hunk.")

How is one to compete in such an environment? Maybe there's an answer...

Long Tails, or Joe Tex as Futurist

The increasing population at the extremes can be beneficial. If the distribution is one of preferences, it means that it becomes more and more likely that someone wants what you have, even if it's not what the majority wants... or as Joe Tex put it in his song predating The Long Tail by decades, "Some man, somewhere will take you, baby, skinny legs and all." You may not come out on top, but you can find someone for whom you are the top.

Conversely, if you're on the customer side and in the long tail, you're more likely to have company (and hence collective clout) as well as someone who provides what you want. You needn't settle for the mass-market product.

Sigh. Romantic and economic issues are getting mixed here, perhaps nudged by my referring to that old song. OTOH, the same issues do apply. Over and above the question of image enhancement, women are compared with Carmen Electra et al., men with Kevin Sorbo and so forth. For the flip side, search for any aesthetic preference in SL and you're likely to find a group devoted to it.

Perhaps I'll come up with some nice conclusion to tie it all together... or perhaps I should've stopped before bringing up the application to relationships.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Voice in SL?

Once upon a time, movies were silent. Actors emoted with grand gestures, with the occasional shot of a pasteboard with crucial dialog. ("I'll pay the rent!" is hard to get across via pantomime. :))

Then came talkies... and suddenly actors had to sound good, too. Oops...

LL has announced that voice is coming to SL. This is proving a controversial issue, and not the unalloyed benefit that one might think:
  • There's the voice, and then there's the avatar. Bela Lugosi may have met a Brooklyn Gorilla, but will you be able to suspend your disbelief if you meet someone with a gorilla avatar and a Brooklyn accent, using voice? It will be Tony Curtis's apocryphal line, "Yonda lies da palace of my faddah, da Caliph" writ large. When the folks at a Texas Renaissance fair close with "Fare thee well, y'all," it's for laughs. Someone on SL portraying a knight but having a Texas accent will have a hard time keeping up the illusion. (Not to mention the gender and age issues...)
  • Some of us lisp; some of us stutter.
  • Some of us are deaf.
  • Voice is often urged as good for lectures or discussions... but OTOH, text gives one an immediate transcript, reliably identifies the speaker, and save in extreme cases, avoids the cacophony of voices one hears at, say, a party in real life. Will public gatherings sound like the ends of net@nite podcasts, where Leo Laporte throws the controls open and tells everyone to talk at once? Will there be sufficient cues that you will be able to tell when to start talking again without talking over someone?
  • It opens up a whole new world for griefers... will you be able to tell whom to mute?
  • What if you use SL in a noisy environment, or one where quiet is important? Sure, you can turn off sound, but if everyone's talking, there's no point in being there without being able to hear them. You can use earphones, but where others are talking, there'll be pressure for you to talk, too, even though you don't want to make noise, or be overheard.
I'm not sure what I think of this yet.