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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A little reading material for ya

I'll post more tonight. Been on deadline today. But for now, here is a link to my last article, a piece on virtual worlds and their "residents." It ran in Tuesday's paper.

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  • Tell me, if someone dies, does their avatar live on in the metaverse? This is disturbing to me in some fundemental way I'm still trying to understand. I just want to tell them to go outside and look up at the stars, kick a rock around, feel the wind, be alive. Then I think; Oh, I'm saying this sitting typing on the computer. Humm.

    By Blogger wordsonwater, at 8:48 PM  

  • oh man...that tells me I spend waaaay to much time blogging.

    By Blogger Pamela, at 3:14 AM  

  • I gotta get in on this! Maybe I can be an avatar "Madam". I'm sure some people wan't to be working girls in thier other life. Whatcha think James. Is that legal?

    By Blogger Angie, at 8:34 AM  

  • Very interesting bit of information. I had no idea such things like these existed -much less that people got so "into" them either.

    By Blogger Jeni, at 10:32 AM  

  • I have tried Second Life myself, and had a really tough time figuring it out. I finally gave up and quit trying.

    Did you try it out James, in preparation for writing your article? If so, what did u think about it?

    By Blogger fiwa, at 11:33 AM  

  • I am just adjusting to blogworld. I don't think I'll ever be ready for the virtual reality you write about. I think when I go on vacation, I REALLY want to be on vacation.

    I think I finally feel like my grandparents and great grandparents did when Rock and Roll was introduced.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 12:12 PM  

  • WoW, that's a very good question, but I assume the avatar just becomes dormant since it can't do anything without you telling it to. It's funny. I had similar reactions as yours at first, and then I counted the hours I spend on my computer each week doing other stuff.

    Pamela, I feel ya. I wonder sometimes if I need to get outside more and do "manual" non-tech stuff.

    Ha! Angie, I don't know. I do know of a site where avatars try to meet for virtual sex - strange, isn't it? So it's legal somewhere.

    Jeni, I suspect I just scratched the surface.

    Fiwa, I didn't try out Second Life. For some stories, I try what I'm writing about. Others not. I wrote about a cardiologist recently, but they wouldn't let me perform heart surgery in preparation for that story. Kidding. Or am, I? In this case, I spent some time with egg heads who were able to show me their virtual experiences. And I watched sample videos of life inside other virtual worlds, like

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:17 PM  

  • MRP, don't feel bad. I consider myself reasonably tech savvy, and I see this stuff as "newfangled" too.

    By Blogger James Burnett, at 12:18 PM  

  • Goodness, one life to manage & live well is already a challenge for me! Maybe 'one day' when I've got it all together in reality, I might try this interesting concept.

    Best wishes!

    By Blogger lavender, at 12:37 PM  

  • JB,

    Where are the guys who spend all their free time playing RECON or Military assault in teams? They got no love?

    As to the closeted people of secret online universes (for some reason, "The Planet of Junior Brown" always comes to mind when I consider these geeks), I disagree with the article to the extent that people who create a virtual version of themselves (can anyone come up with a geekier sounding name for that than "avatar"?) are probably as engaged in everyday interaction with people uninvolved with geekdom as they could be. I think if that were true, they wouldn't have the time it takes to keep up with their virtual world (unless they spend all day at work doing it or are unemployed which says something else about their character in addition to being uber-nerds).

    I dunno--it seems that most people who participate in this stuff are just as boring online as they are in person, which sort of defeats the whole purpose of creating a virtual world. I would say they should get out and get some sun, but someone has already told them that. So I would suggest that they develop a nasty cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin habit. That'll instantly cure their boredom and free them of the spare change they need to maintain these faux yous.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:10 PM  

  • One more thing--about the Matrix--is it me or was everyone in the movie except Neo simply devoid of imagination? Since they were in a virual world limited only by what they could think, how is it that none of the Middle earthers could imagine the computer running the matrix disintegrating into atomic dust or one of the agents turning into a roach? This is especially true of the previous matrix washouts. None of the males had the exceptionally long and thick member that spews rays of light that is present in most anime type dream sequences; none of the females had perfect skin, clothes, hair, or shoes (except the chick who helped them in the second one). If you have a good imagination, it seems that a virtual world is never a decent substitute.

    By Anonymous Big Daddy, at 3:21 PM  

  • Nice article James. I find blogging already takes up enough time. I have a friend who knows some that's in Second Life..and here I thought she was speaking metaphorically!! LOL

    By Blogger Claudia, at 7:42 PM  

  • The internet is addicting enough and keeps me from interacting with others enough without me trying any of these virtual life games. Actually I've never tried one at all and don't cause I don't want to get sucked in.

    There are a lot of people out there that don't deal well with reality. I wonder if these games make that even worse for them.

    By Blogger Jay, at 9:00 PM  

  • Wow. I have never even HEARD of such a thing. It sounds a little bit interesting and a WHOLE lot creepy to me to be honest. I can also see where it might become more than a little bit addicting as well. I used to play spades online for 2-3 hours a day for at least a few years and that was addicting enough. I had to drag myself away from that to a degree. About a year ago I found blogland and while I enjoy it, I find myself fairly leary of falling into that same trap with this stuff.


    By Blogger briliantdonkey, at 9:39 AM  

  • I'm surprised that so few of you are familiar with this phenomenon, as it's hardly a new thing. Many of the virtual old timers are the same sort of people who pioneered the American West: a mixture of iconoclasts who have trouble with authority figures, and hard-core capitalists looking to make a buck off our obsession with novelty.

    Yeah, I've been involved in a few of these things, although I find the interfaces to be too intrusive for a satisfying experience. But in another five years technology will have moved to the point where there's a more seamless transition between cyberspace and meatspace (to use two fifteen year old terms for the environment), and then it'll be pretty damned close to ubiquitous.

    Hell, since I'm using up James' comment space anyway, let me paint you a picture. Let's say you need to do a little research on China, and pick up some new music. Instead of just loading Amazon and Google in Internet Explorer, you "put on" your avatar and enter whatever VR has supplanted Second Life. You walk over to the Google kiosk to do your research, and you see the avatar of one of your friends who happens to be across the world on vacation. Just as if you run into a neighbor at the grocery, you put off what you're doing for a minute to chat about what's going on and catch up before getting to the task at hand.

    Then you head over to the Amazon "store" and look for a Miles Davis album to download. If you know exactly what you want you grab it and go, but if you aren't sure which version of Birth of the Cool to get, you can ask the friendly sales clerk avatar standing nearby for a suggestion, knowing that a real person is on the other end of the wire. Once you've got it (and maybe a copy of Bitches Brew, too), you log out, leaving your avatar to wait for next time.

    Will it replace going to the store? Not at all. Can it provide a more personal on-line experience? Certainly, and with the additional sensory input that comes with recognizing the "faces" of your friends, it can be a richer experience.

    Now can someone help me down off this lectern?

    By Blogger mkh, at 8:59 PM  

  • James, you are a marvellous writer for sure, what an interesting topic. You know, I am not one for avatars, but I did find this funny cartoon of a nurse and well, it is not me and I am me but it is cute.
    You got me thinking, I am going to put the image of me back for my comment images again.
    I love meeting people and seeing what loives are like in other parts of the World for sure, ad I hope to meet a few too, in person :)

    Ohhh, word verification is

    By Blogger Cazzie!!!, at 9:52 PM  

  • I think I have one of those cyber-life thingies.

    It's called a blog. :-D

    By Blogger SWF41, at 1:28 PM  

  • Check out

    By Blogger Dayngr, at 7:02 PM  

  • Great article James!

    I was thinking about this today actually in relation to something a bit different. I just wonder if virtual worlds really let people develop interpersonal relationship skillsets that you need in real life.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 3:08 AM  

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