Archive for the ‘Avatars and body components’ Tag

Challenge: What Did You Look Like When You Were Born?

new default avatars

Source: New Classic Avatars released by Linden Lab, by Daniel Voyager

You have to say, as does Daniel, that these new default avatars look a whole lot classier than what I entered Second Life with in October 2007.  It almost makes me want to start up a new “walking” alt and see what folks have to say.  To demonstrate:

Oh, you want to see more? Turn the page!

Reblog: The Eyes Have It

Eyes can matter a lot for a look, or for a role. Here's a selection of eyes from AtG articles and photo album additions over the past six months or so. Clockwise from the top: purple eyes for the "Amethyst Beguilement" shoot; blue mirror balls for "Auspicious"; my natural Poetic Gold Flake blues in my natural appearance; my Keiko avatar's green eyes (I always need to watch out for Lo Pan from "Big Trouble in Little China" when I'm using this avatar); a pair of glasses shows how important good eyes with depth and reflection can be; and some gold irises for the "Binary" pair.

Iris Ophelia, writing for New World Notes, has done an excellent piece on why eyes are so important to the well-groomed avatar’s look in Second Life.  From her story:

A good set of eyes are equally as important as a good skin, but because eyes are so small (and because we stare at the back of our avatar’s head more than the front) it’s easy to forget about them. I’ll admit that I almost never even credit the eyes I’m wearing with my outfits because they’re usually the smallest detail. Nevertheless I pay a lot of attention to how my eyes look in world and in pictures, so today I’m sharing some tips to getting the most out of your SL eyes

She has several excellent tips for you to go over and consider.  Why not cast your (real) eyes upon them?

Batting 1,000 Avatars

I was happy to get a chance to do a little informal pose work today for a Resident who’s making a name for herself in our community.

Gracie Kendal at work

Gracie Kendal, making like Annie Liebowitz

Gracie Kendal (above) has taken a project that began as illustration for a thesis, and turned it into an exhibit of creative power both on her part and that of her models, as well as a celebration of the wonder and power behind these virtual creations we inhabit.  The 1000 Avatars Project, dedicated to the late Delinda Dyrssen, is Gracie’s quest to photograph at least 1,000 different Residents as they picture themselves.  Gracie’s kept busy so far; as of my last check, she had over 700 photos, and she gets more lining up whenever she is in world from the looks, costumed up as they envision their avatarish personality.

The results have been diverse, to say the least, and illustrate the amazing creativity behind Second Life avatars.  To see some of the work, drop in at 1000 Avatars and run down through the articles.  You can find out more about the Project, if you haven’t heard already, on the about page, and also learn how to offer yourself up to Gracie for 5-10 minutes of (backward facing) fame.  You should work out in advance what you want to appear as, and perhaps also choose an animation/pose that helps illustrate your SL personality.

Be prepared for all sorts of things.  For instance, this is how the studio looked tonight, when I went back to check things out:

Observe the royalty inside the translucent hemisphere, and the professional comedian in front.  And this is just a single time here; you can find more on the walls about you.

Also, after I’d posed this morning, and was hanging around to observe for a while, everyone started jumping up and down to pass the time while they waited their turn.  It got infectious (with a little help from a gifted jump animation):

Does Linden Lab Plan to Allow RL Names in Future?

Thanks to Hamlet Au and New World Notes.

Down 9/10 of the way in his Big Blog meditation on Second Life’s place in the Internet culture over the past year and decade, Mark Kingdon gives a list of things planned for 2010.  Among these, possibly lesser in importance in business terms — but an earthquake in the social sense, as in one of the fundamental cornerstones of Second Life society — is the ability to choose your own RL name instead of a Linden-type surname.  The emphasis here, by the way, is on “choose”; nowhere does it say that people will be compelled to use their real name, as Facebook does currently to my last knowledge.  (One reason among several why “Harper Ganesvoort” will probably never appear on Facebook.)

In his closing paragraph to his summation of Mark’s article, Hamlet Au opines:

…(I)n my opinion, it’s about time. The need for real names as option is a key one, I think, and is partly why I believe deep integration of Second Life with Facebook is so important for mass growth. As the rapid adoption of social games (compared to the slow growth of Second Life) suggests, the majority of the market is not interested in having avatars that are totally separate from their real world identity. Rather, they want avatars that are more akin to Halloween costumes, a fun and temporary extension of their entire identity, with the fullness of their everyday self always peeking out behind the mask. And in any case, nothing about having real names in Second Life precludes fantasy avatars too — even used by the same person, depending on the context.  [1]

The established, 2-year-old avatar in me shudders at this.  I enjoy my avatar persona, and the small reputation I’ve created here.  I can’t imagine myself walking around using my real-world name (and no, I’m not going to reveal that here or anywhere else :).

From a more practical viewpoint, though, I think Ham is probably right.  Nothing floated so far says that a person who chooses to use their real name can’t put together another, fantasy-based avatar under a Linden name as well.  And frankly, there are some who might use this opportunity to create real-world pseudonyms for various (some possibly non-legitimate) reasons….  Remember the supposedly founding premise behind the Metaverse, as in Stephenson’s Snow Crash:  as a place where people could meet face to face from across the world and transact whatever business they had to do, be it entertainment or legit.  Remember Hiro having a business meeting with Uncle Enzo and the last fellow (can’t remember his name now) toward the end of the book, and they’re using their real names, not “avatar names.”

Consider the gray-flannel mentality of conservative, normal businessmen, which still exists today.  Some business meetings are done now in SL, of course; think how much more businesses might embrace it if they did not have to use some funky stage name.  And, no matter how much we rail at the thought of another bastion of individuality getting corrupted by business, future growth of the metaverse concept will be dependent on its adoption and use by business on a large scale.   Business is what finances and drives the Internet now; it’s no longer the home of strictly intellectual or technical types, no longer the domain solely of “fanboy” celebrity appreciation pages, and that halcyon time of yore when it was will never return.

But the Internet has grown richer for it as well, at least in some ways, for it has also engendered the rise of the Blogosphere (with all its good as well as bad points) and other pathways for individual self-expression.  That richness will spread into the Metaverse as well, no matter what part of the Metaverse ends up as the dominant part of it.  (There are so many different metaverses now, including Open Sim, that I wouldn’t dare predict which will become the dominant paradigm, if any.)  So, as long as the ability to use a “mask” never departs from our choices here, I don’t think the Imminent Downfall of Second Life would be at hand if we are suddenly allowed to choose our real identities when we’re constructing an avatar.

After all, we already have that choice when creating our avatar, as well as when we are living in it; just not the same flexibility in choice of name….


[1] I’m not too sure about Ham’s belief that the greater market wants to use their legit name; I think the greater market wants an experience that is easier to use and navigate.  No matter what is done, Second Life’s learning curve will be initially steep, and I don’t think that will change.  But that’s not the point to this article, so let’s keep on track.

What Truly Lies Behind the Avatar’s Face?

Nav writes in Scrawled in Wax about a question that frequently exercises sociologists and psychologists studying us in Second Life, and has probably puzzled a number of plain Residents, too. With the ability to become anyone and anything you can imagine when you live on the Grid, just what is it that motivates a person to design an avatar as they do? Not only do most people on the Grid exhibit a mind-blowing (and truly unreal) sexual gorgeousness, but you can also be a girl when you’re a boy, a boy when you’re a girl (apparently less often), a vampire, a half-cat, foxes and dogs and trolls and hobbits and elves and dragons and…. Well, you obviously know what I mean.

Nav’s main point: it’s entirely likely that there’s something more than simple roleplay in many cases. There must be a reason why a person chooses to cover themselves in scales, or festoon their electronic bodies with pendulous (ahem) equipment, or whatever. On the surface, the argument seems rather Freudian; but that doesn’t disqualify it from being valid and worthy of consideration.

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