[iDC] Anyone using SL

Cynthia Beth Rubin cbrubin at risd.edu
Wed Jan 6 14:37:51 UTC 2010

HI All

At the recent DAC conference (Digital Art and Culture), Sneha  
Veeragoudar Harrell and D. Fox Harrell gave a great paper on some of  
the issues surrounding SL. (Exploring the Potential of Computational  
Representations for Enabling Learning: Examining At-risk Youthsʼ  
Development of  Mathematical/Computational Agency)

Although they are specifically addressing the issues of "at risk"  
teenagers using Teen Second Life (TSL) the concerns that raised by  
Sneha and Fox pertain to all of us.  The teens in their study were  
uncomfortable taking on new identifies, especially when those  
identifies fit certain stereotypes.

SL is a strange paradox in that it tries to mimic the real world in  
many ways, but forces us to enter this world by giving up the one  
thing that gives us grounding: our sense of ourselves.  While no doubt  
many people welcome this, I am among those who find this bizarre and  
less than appealing.  We do not all want avatars - we want other means  
to break into new experience that SL almost offers, but not quite.   
What I want from SL, or any VR experience, is a lack of reality in the  
world itself, while keeping a sense of myself.  I want the opposite of  
SL.  And I want an easy interface to be able to creative rather than  
just experiential, which includes being able to easily import fanciful  
colors, textures and 3D forms built in whatever software works for my  
own creativity.

This is reminiscent of the history of so much software.  Developers  
begin with a narrow focus - remember the early digital imaging  
software when "PhotoMac" and "Photoshop" were supposedly only for  
manipulating photographs, with great color control but no layers, no  
easy interface for creativity.  All of that was left to "Pixel Paint"  
and "Studio/8" , which had layers from the start, as well as opacity  
changes (even in 8 bit) and all kinds of interesting tools to prompt  
creative play.  Eventually the behemoth Adobe bought up or drowned out  
every one else (but Painter), and the success of Adobe Photoshop is  
that it promotes creativity and invention while still providing the  
basic tools for those who just want to crop their photos.

I am guilty of not exploring the creativity within SL - and I do  
understand that there are workarounds, but it is my understanding is  
that constructing in SL is cumbersome.  I have other things to do  
while I wait for a desktop VR interface that will fit into my ongoing  
workflow.  And this includes one in which I can really share and  
communicate with others - in whatever form they choose to present  

Cynthia Beth Rubin

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