Tuesday Apr 22, 2008

Getting a (Second) Life

I'm going to be part of the Sun Microsystems employee event in Second Life next week, and to get emotionally and electronically ready, our comms team has been busy crafting an avatar for me. In some ways, virtual reality has the right amount of malleability: I asked to be six feet tall, and for the first time in my life I've broken that barrier. I have a somewhat accurate portrayal of weight, shape and dress code, down to my favorite orange sneakers. What's kind of cool is going through your 2L inventory to see the components assembled, layered, filtered and otherwise projected on your form. And here's where reality intrudes again, mixing metaphor and meat-for: Several years ago, I asked one of my Chinese-literate friends how you refer to curly hair in Mandarin. Her response was that there's really no phrase for hair like that on people, and the closest thing she could come up with was "curly dog fur." So for a while, she referred to me as "black dog fur" and it kind of stuck as a diminutive.

Guess what provides the texture map for my hair in Second Life? I've been shopping in the dog fur store, folks. Folks who are strong proponents of immersive worlds are quick to point out that the worlds aren't completely artificial; they're representations of real people doing real things. And in my case, with the same real world limitations on my shaggy look.

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Hal Stern's thoughts on software, services, cloud computing, security, privacy, and data management

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