Wednesday, December 30, 2009

"It's just life..."

Yesterday my friend and fellow blogger Diogenes Kuhr got something off her chest about the perception that Second Life residents have no "First Life." You can read it in its entirety here.

But since Blogger seems to have something against letting Mac users comment on other people's blogs, I'm posting my comments in my own blog. Which is probably for the best, because usually my responses end up meandering off course.

Dio's post got me thinking when she said that this time of year can be tough for SLers who visit family and try to explain this "other life" to them. "...and they kind of smile, while their eyes regard you with this mixture of pity, contempt and confusion. And maybe even fear." I had to laugh, because since I have a smallish family and live close to most of my relatives, I get that a lot myself all year round.

What it really got me contemplating, though, was the notion that this time of year actually proves what a wonderful platform SL is and its potentials.

For many people who don't have families, who don't have close relationships with their families, or can't afford to travel to see their families, this can be a lonely time of year.

Sure, in "real life" you can exchange phone calls, emails and Christmas cards with family and friends, but it's not the same as seeing them. The SL experience, however, gives you the next best thing.

Many folks spent Christmas *in* SL this year, having dinner, opening presents, leaving cookies and milk for Santa. They spent it with friends and family, some from SL and some even from RL. To me, that's the closest thing to "real" that you can get.

SL is also responsible for the happy Christmas an SL acquaintance of mine got this year. After marrying her SL partner in RL, thanks to help from her SL friends, she and her son were able to make the trip overseas to reunite with her husband. They were a day late for Christmas, but the three of them are now finally together as a family. What better gift could that be?

So while we may "live" in a pixelated world, there are flesh and blood people behind every one of those IP addresses that log on. It's really no different than texting or using Twitter or Facebook to communicate.

If anything, SL offers more intimate and meaningful interaction than those communication services, because it not only happens in real time, it also provides a rich visual experience and a deeper context to the communication.

You may not be seeing the "real" physical person via a webcam or photograph, but through an avatar, what you *do* see is even more revealing about a person. The avatar is a virtual manifestation of how we really see ourselves, deep down, and how we would like others to see us.

Yes, there are plenty of ethically challenged and morally bankrupt dickheads in SL, and at times it can be a struggle, without benefit of body language, to accurately interpret whether someone is trying to insult you or is being sarcastic. For the most part, however, Second Life is really just an enhancement of our "First Life." A "Second Home," as it were.

I know I feel the richer for having moved in.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

The Union Suit now available!

Another new product rolled out today -- Old West RPers will recognize this one: the classic "union suit" one piece wool long underwear (also called longjohns, depending on where you are from), featuring the buttoned "drop seat" or "escape hatch" in the rear. Now in red AND grey!

This winter essential is not only for the Victorian gentlemen in the Old West, ladies will find it a practical item as well -- in fact, historically, the union suit was originally created by women, for women, as part of the Rational Dress movement of the mid to late- 19th century.

"The first union suit was patented in 1868 as 'emancipation union under flannel.' Traditionally made of red flannel with long arms and long legs, it buttoned up the front and had a button-up flap in the rear covering one's rear end (colloquially known as the "access hatch", "drop seat", "fireman's flap", and other names), allowing the wearer to eliminate bodily waste without removing the garment.

Depending on the size, some union suits can have a dozen buttons on the front to be fastened through buttonholes from the neck down to the groin area."

Monday, December 14, 2009

1896 "Night Before Christmas" book now available

The famous Christmastide poem "The Night Before Christmas" (also known as "A Visit From St. Nicholas" or "'Twas the Night Before Christmas") was written by Clement C. Moore and first published anonymously in the Troy, New York Sentinel on December 23, 1823.

Montagne Noire has acquired a carton of 1896 editions which are now available for sale in the MNC shop in Caledon Oxbridge Village for 75L.

Much of our modern notion of Santa Claus can be found in this poem,  including his physical appearance, the night of his visit, his mode of transportation, the number and names of his reindeer, and the tradition that he brings toys to children.

Prior to the publication of the poem, St. Nicholas, Father Christmas and Santa Claus, among other Wintertide visitors, were imbued with distinct cultural traditions. With Moore's poem, Santa Claus emerged as a distinctively American character, further shaped in the Victorian era by artists like Thomas Nast and in the 20th century by the advertising art of the Coca-Cola company.

This prim book contains scripted pages that turn when you click on them. The book displays reproductions of pages from an 1896 edition of "The Night Before Christmas."

To use the book, simply rez it and click the cover to open it. Then click each page to turn to the next one. You can close the book by clicking on either the front or back cover. Take care not to click too quickly, especially if you are in a sim with high script usage, the pages might take a a little longer to appear.

This book comes in two sizes -- a smaller "reading edition" and a larger decorative version that shows off the book's beautiful artwork. This book set is also transferable for gift giving!

Joyeaux Noel!

Monday, December 7, 2009

More on promoting your business in SL

Responding to my post about SL business marketing and profile picks two weeks ago, fellow Victorian designer Marrant Vita asked how I keep track of who puts my shop in their profile picks.

I thought it was worth a separate blog entry unto itself, because the program has proved so successful for me thanks to a product I found on XStreet.

The Profile Picks Gift Vendor, which I put out in my shop in Caledon, does all the work for me. I have two signs up -- the first is for the dress, and contains a notecard about how to participate in the profile picks incentive program.

The second sign, located underneath the first, contains the script. The customer puts my shop in their picks, then returns a day later (24-48 hours is supposedly how long it can take for results to appear in Search). When they touch the second sign, the script contained within then searches Search for that person's profile. If it finds my shop in their picks, it delivers the dress.

There's even a website where I can view who has participated in the program.

I should add the caveat that only account-verified avis can participate, which means that they have payment information on file with Linden Labs that verifies their identity. The SL search engine itself is currently set up so that only the profiles of account-verified users are indexed.

It's worked wonderfully and I can definitely recommend it -- it's very much worth the price. I have seen a marked improvement in my Search returns, in addition to
some keyword tweaking I've been doing to both my land descriptions and my classified ads.

Marrant's business by the way is called Marrant Vita's Victorian Needs, and she makes wonderful scripted products such as an antique sewing machine, a bread baking set and cleaning supplies.

She also makes amazing children's clothing -- you can get an entire set of clothes and a wood wardrobe for 500L -- and scripted toys, like her dollhouse and a wooden train set.