Largest Second Life Blogger Directory Again Available for SL Blogger Registration

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Becky:

I’ve been working, alongside a couple of other very committed people, to update and redesign Blogging Second Life – SL’s biggest directory of blogs and stores / creators. If you’re a Second Life Blogger, you might be interested in getting on the list and learning more about what this project is all about.

Originally posted on [SL] Blogger Support:

I am very happy to invite you all to register your Second Life blog on the largest SL blog directory1,200 Second Life blogs and bloggers are already registered. 1,700 Second Life stores and creators are registered. We have recategorised all the listings to make them easier to find. The sheets now dynamically filter the data you are looking for into embedded spreadsheets placed in 25 new blogger pages and 58 new store pages.

Why should your blog be on this list?

Store owners and creators have used these lists to find bloggers to approach to blog their products since 2011.

Benefits for the SL Blogger:

  • People interested in what you blog about will find you in the category your blog is listed much faster than they’ll find you on Google
  • You can use the listings to more easily find other bloggers in your niche
  • You can potentially find niches that fit your interests that may still…

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5 misconceptions around mesh heads in Second Life

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As more and more mesh heads are released into the Second Life marketplace, I am noticing that their mere mention is sometimes enough to incite detractors to criticise people who use them. The criticism often sounds like “mesh heads all look alike”, and the falsely dichotomous “mesh heads make you less unique”, followed often by the fearful warning that we’ll all soon look like “clones” and that mesh heads are “the new evil”.

There is a conventional wisdom in western culture – naturally echoed in Second Life – that suggests we are all unique (aka ‘special’) and that uniqueness (aka ‘individuality’) is a human right that we should not only strive to attain, but protect with every fibre of our will against those who want to strip us of our specialness. Yet while we believe so fervently in the value of personal growth, we tend to meet change with fear and resistance, clutching – often groundlessly – to what we already know.

These views are a product of lazy thinking, festooned with the faulty logic of the “Me” generation, and saddled by false dichotomies that make many of our conclusions just plain wrong.

In this post, I’ll specifically discuss the 5 misconceptions surrounding mesh heads in Second Life, why I think we need to review them, and how our attitude toward them is symptomatic of deeper issues related to resistance to change.

  1. Mesh heads all look alike
  2. Mesh heads make you more common and less unique
  3. We are all inherently different
  4. Our faces are us
  5. Change is bad

Before I start, let me address what might be perceived as a personal bias. I’ve worn mesh heads since 2013. Over two years later, I’m still not finding my individuality slipping away. I still feel like myself.

While I prefer the look of mesh heads in general, that’s not to say they are perfect. Further, I don’t judge those who prefer not to use them any differently than those that do.

What I don’t like, however, are the false conclusions that get thrown around about mesh heads as if they are undeniably true. With that said, I’m not writing this post to defend the use of mesh heads, or to suggest you should adopt one if you don’t feel it is for you.

am writing this post to suggest logical counter-arguments to falsely held prejudices shared by those who criticise mesh heads (and feel the need to share their prejudices with the world at large) for the reasons I’ll get into now.

Misconception 1: Mesh heads all look alike

This is like saying all Volkswagens all look alike. They don’t, and neither do mesh heads. Granted, there is similarity among mesh heads from the same merchant, just as there tends to be similarity among cars models from the same manufacturer.

However, when one considers the various brands and changes one can make by changing sizes, skin tones, features like eye colour and ears, makeup options, accessories, facial expressions, and hair, the differences can – and do – become more distinct. When one considers the impacts that lighting in photography and graphic settings in viewers, the differences are even greater. As evidence, just look at the remarkable diversity in looks found in the Lelutka Mesh Head Showcase on Flickr.

The over-generalisation that all mesh heads look alike also reminds of when people say that those from races other than their own “all look alike”. This is a psychological shortcoming that is common to people of all races – referred to as “The Other-Race Effect”: We are reliably poor at distinguishing traits in races different from our own.

I would assert that we are similarly poor at distinguishing the differences between mesh heads because we are still unfamiliar with them.

When it comes to race, these views are not necessarily a result of (or even correlated with) prejudice or racism, they are simply the result of perceptual weakness.

One theory is that we generally spend more time with people of our own race and therefore develop a perceptual ability for those who look more obviously similar to us. As an example, because Caucasians exhibit wider variety in hair colour than other races, Caucasians develop more practice in differentiating others by their hair colour. In other words, we are better at what we practice.

This would hold true in Second Life as well. At the moment, mesh heads are relatively rare. It follows, that we may lack the learned perceptual ability to tell them apart as well as we might be able to do so with system heads.

Another theory used to explain the “other-race effect” is that we think categorically about people who look obviously different to us. What this means is that we notice the obvious traits (e.g. skin tone) and tune out more subtle characteristics (e.g. the near infinite variability in the shapes and sizes of facial features). In other words, we’re lazy.

I think the fallacy that all mesh heads in Second Life look the same is more likely explained by the latter theory – we look at mesh heads and see the obvious differentiators – smoother lines and profiles, porcelain skin tones and near-perfect complexions – yet we lazily fail to note more subtle differences.

Misconception 2: Mesh heads make you more common and less unique

To give credit where it is due, what led me to consider our misconceptions around mesh heads was Caitlin Tobias’ post, where she shares her thoughts (and hesitations) in adopting a mesh head (i.e. Letutka’s Ever) and says: “In the beginning, when the mesh heads arrived in SL, I was almost sure I would never take one.” This initial psychological resistance is echoed by Strawberry Singh – also a LeLutka user, in her post published on the same day where she states: “I never thought it would happen where I would start to prefer a mesh head.” (My emphasis of the word ‘never’ in both statements).

Caity 3.0 - A blogpost

Caity is wearing the LeLutka Ever

LeLutka Mesh Head - Stella

Strawberry is wearing the LeLutka Stella

I have read many posts and heard many reflections from people who have now adopted mesh heads that shared a similar reluctance at first. This reluctance was often accompanied by the same absolutism about never adopting a mesh head for day-to-day use.

Never. Say. Never.

As I was reading Caity’s post, I followed her link to Auryn Beorn’s post, that acted as the nudge for Caity to make the move to mesh.

In Auryn’s post, she suggests that we shouldn’t worry so much about being unique, and that declaring one’s individuality and uniqueness to all who might listen consequently assigns one to the very large and common group of people who value uniqueness and individuality. At the risk of being hopelessly unoriginal myself, let me repost my comment to Auryn’s post here (slightly paraphrased):

I make a similar argument with people who have tattoos (in real-life) on the premise that it makes them unique, when I know that the designs they adopted came from a book, or at best someone else’s (the tattoo artist’s) imagination. In the same way, even a completely custom made tattoo in real-life only helps to squarely box you into the category of people who wear tattoos. Tattoos that incidentally have historically been used to signal one’s affiliation to a tribe or group. Oh, the irony.”

Auryn further asserts that there is nothing to fear about being ‘normal’. With that said, she does not put her uniqueness – her identity – into the face of her avatar in Second Life.

To be unique (or not to be) - Blog Post

Auryn is wearing the Lelutka Stella

I think similarly.

First of all, an avatar’s appearance is only one expression, among millions of expressions – of what makes the driver who they are (note I did not say ‘unique’, that is something different).

I’d argue that what makes you who you are is more about how you think, what you do, what you value, and how you live. One’s appearance is important, but only in the context of the multitude of one’s other characteristics and traits.

I’ve long known that one’s identity – or indeed one’s perception of uniqueness – need not arise from one’s outward appearance. It’s what is inside that makes one who one is – not what one wears or even what one looks like. It’s what is inside you that is responsible for the million everyday manifestations of everything that makes you specifically you.

So no, wearing a mesh head will not make you any less of an individual. This is consistent with my view that adhering to a dress codes also needn’t make one feel any less special or unique.

When people criticise mesh heads (and by association those who use them), they tend to reliably follow their criticism by declaring how they have painstakingly shaped their own appearance as if it were the height of classical sculpture. Like Renaissance sculptors, they have painstakingly chiselled at those sliders for years – from left to right and back again – to the point where they are now ‘unique’.

The implication is that if you customise your avatar’s face, then you are unique. Conversely, if you choose to use a mesh head, then you are common. What follows is the illogical conclusion that unique is good, and common is bad.

In Second Life, we have 6 tabs for editing facial appearance. These contain 11 head sliders, 11 eye sliders, 4 ear sliders, 11 nose sliders, 9 mouth sliders and 9 chin sliders. Multiplied together, there are a possible 431,244 combinations. We can then add skin to that mix to get even more variation.

Now that may sound like a lot to you, but when you compare it to real life variability that can be measured in microns, this number is not really that big, and certainly not enough to make one unique.

Update – 25 of May: I’ve recently been shown that this computation is in fact in error, so I’m striking it out. The actual combinations are much greater than the number I arrived at. Thanks to Sei Lisa for pointing out the error in comments.

Even if you do customise your face, the big assumption here is you have chosen slider settings that are different to everyone else who has also customised their facial features. This is less likely given fashion trends and central tendency bias alone (the tendency to not select an extreme option, and instead pick an option that is closer to the centre of the options). Given that many people don’t even touch their appearance sliders for years, the reality is that avatars in Second Life have looked the same or similar for years. It’s nothing new, and nothing to get all angsty about.

This begs the question, how important is being unique anyway? Individualism is a relatively recent ideology that has its early beginnings in modern times. It’s also primarily a social outlook that has more currency in the West. Individuality has been linked with social inequality, overconsumption, and less social responsibility. The notion of individuality is not even among the widely accepted human universals.

Personally, I think that we in the West have confused the value of uniqueness with the economic principle of scarcity. We tend to associate higher relative value with objects that are in relatively low supply. The more unique or rare something is, we believe, the more valuable it must also be.

This would explain our persistently irrational esteem for gold and other precious metals. Gold, in fact, is only valuable because we – as a society – decided it is. It has no intrinsic value. One of the main reasons that gold is so valuable is because it’s so rare. If you managed to collect and melt down every piece of gold we have unearthed to date, you’d end up what would roughly amount to 20 meter cube.

Misconception 3: We are all inherently different

We are in fact much more the same than we are different.

We often like to claim that our uniqueness is attributable to the complex combinations of the unique genetic endowments successively multiplied by the innumerable combinations of all the generations that have helped to make us uniquely us.

The concept that we are all very different and special in our own way is actually a not grounded in genetic reality. The mapping of the human genome now shows that two people plucked at random off the street, might differ at about 1 in every 1,200 to 1,500 DNA bases (or letters).

Is this a little or is this a lot?

It turns out, if you add up all of those potential differences, you are about 99.9% genetically the same as me. You read that right. You and I are only 0.1% different from one another.

Put another way:

If the genome were a book, every person’s book would contain the same paragraphs and chapters, arranged in the same order. Each book would tell more or less the same story. But my book might contain a typo on page 303 that yours lacks, and your book might use a British spelling on page 135—”colour”—where mine uses the American spelling—”color.” Genome News Network.

We may be genetically unique, but that still doesn’t make us very different.

Then how and why can we look so different, you ask? Well, like I said, we mainly look different to each other. Other animals likely see us as very similar, just like we might have trouble telling the difference between chimpanzees. We do find this hard, which is why we identify apes by their unique nose prints.

Genetically speaking, the reason every human genome is different is because of mutations – which is a geneticist’s term for ‘mistakes’ – that occur from time to time in the DNA sequence. Mutations create slightly different versions of genes that are called alleles, and this accounts for everything we see as ‘unique’ in each other – whether it be in hair, skin, height, shape, and even behaviour and susceptibility to disease. Mutations are not always bad news, and genetic variation is useful (and in fact necessary) for the persistence of the species; but again, variation does not imply uniqueness, and uniqueness has little inherent genetic value.

As a wild and wacky aside, genetic uniqueness might not always manifest itself as different. The two women in this video are genetically unique, but still somehow look very similar to each other:

Appearances aside, most of us also live fairly similarly predictable lives. In anthropology, there is a concept known as human universals. These elements, patterns, traits and institutions are common to all human cultures. According to American Professor of Anthropology names Donald Brown, the following “features of culture, society, language, behaviour and psyche for which there no known exception” include:

age-grading, athletic sports, bodily adornment, calendar, cleanliness training, community organization, cooking, cooperative labor, cosmology, courtship, dancing, decorative art, divination, division of labor, dream interpretation, education, eschatology, ethics, ethno-botany, etiquette, faith healing, family feasting, fire-making, folklore, food taboos, funeral rites, games, gestures, gift-giving, government, greetings, hair styles, hospitality, housing, hygiene, incest taboos, inheritance rules, joking, kin groups, kinship nomenclature, language, law, luck superstitions, magic, marriage, mealtimes, medicine, obstetrics, penal sanctions, personal names, population policy, postnatal care, pregnancy usages, property rights, propitiation of supernatural beings, puberty customs, religious ritual, residence rules, sexual restrictions, soul concepts, status differentiation, surgery, tool-making, trade, visiting, weather control, weaving.

Even culturally, we’re not as different as we think.

What I also find dripping with irony is that often the same people who are telling others to wear this and wear that because it’s the latest and greatest, are the same ones that are crying out for everyone to be unique.

What is fashion, if not a call to all and sundry to follow the latest trends, to fit in, and to be in style? Of course, one can clearly hear the fashion industry’s mixed message if only one listens, which essentially amounts to:

Wear whatever we are selling everyone, BUT you must also be yourself!

Misconception 4: Our faces are us

Humans have a moderately large area of the brain that is dedicated to human facial perception. We are born with it, and it only gets better as we age into adulthood. Because of this trait that has evolved to protect us from those who might do us harm, we are hyper-aware of the tiniest differences in human faces – but not differences in other animals or even other parts of human anatomy.

For example, where was this uproar when mesh hands and feet came out? No where.

Instead, mesh hands and feet were widely adopted, are now often found as one of the top 10 best-selling products on the Second Life Marketplace, and have helped Slink become a business that makes hundreds of thousands of dollars (that’s not Linden dollars by the way, that’s US dollars). Yet mesh heads (and to a lesser degree, mesh bodies) are something people resist with a fervour reserved for an invading alien force.

Faces – and their features – are very precious to us, because we use faces to show someone’s origin, emotional tendencies, health qualities, and social information. The funny thing is, we don’t get any of this information in Second Life. So what’s all the hubbub, when we’re trading in what is essentially one static face for another static face?

We have a complex relationship with our faces, that extends beyond our other body parts. One recent study on the psychological effects of aesthetic surgery revealed that breast augmentation (the most common cosmetic surgery procedure in the UK) and breast reduction (the 4th most common) are uniformly associated with positive emotional outcomes – while nose jobs and face lifts present a more mixed picture.

Still, in the UK at least, eyelid surgery is the 2nd most common cosmetic surgery procedure and growing by 14%, face/neck lifts are the 3rd most common and are growing by 13%, while nose jobs are the 5th most common and growing by 19%. (Source).

The statistics for the US are somewhat different, where liposuction tops the charts, and tummy tucks appear in the top 5 due to reasons that very few people will likely need me to explain. All the other usual suspects stay.

Many people walk into cosmetic surgery offices armed with images of celebrities who have features they’d like to emulate. Yet, people who have facial cosmetic surgery remain the same people they were before they had their surgery. They don’t feel any bit less individual, and no less unique.

I’ve heard the argument that mesh heads in Second Life are undesirable because we can’t easily make them look the way we do in real-life. People who have plastic surgery think in the opposite way, they change their appearance to feel more like what they want to look like and what is aesthetically pleasing to them.

Face lifts, neck lifts, brow lifts, chin augmentation, eyelid reductions – these things are no longer considered taboo. Again, while our facial appearance is important to us, we are much, much, much more than that.

And before anyone claims that cosmetic surgery is a fringe activity for a very small market of weirdos or the psychologically deficient, know that there were 1.8 million surgical cosmetic procedures in the US in 2014 alone. Now compare that to the number of people who routinely use Second Life.

Misconception 5: Change is bad

Now that Caity is adopting a new mesh head, which (she calls Caity 3.0) is she now going to be dramatically different from Caity 2.98743 (I heard that was the last update)?

Of course not. Yet, people have, and will continue to tell her not to change, sometimes citing that they “miss the old Caity”.

She is still the same old Caity, in 99.99999% of every way. This change in appearance just happens to be a change that we can see. It’s obvious to us, and compels us to comment and offer our unsolicited opinion on the merits of the change.

Why should anyone care if someone else changes? What does it have to do with us?

I think what it comes down to is that when someone makes a big change we wonder if we also might need to change. Sometimes we fear that someone’s change will threaten our relative position in some way. Do I now have to get a mesh head too? Am I being left behind?

People also fear change in others because they worry about how it will change their relationship with the person making the change. And many people are terrified of this kind of change.

We genuinely believe that whatever we have done for a long time must be the right way to do things. And the longer we’ve been doing something, the better it likely is. Like we do with scarcity, we illogically value longevity. Because something has been around a long time, we tend to think it has deserved to be around, which means it must be good, right? We do this with art, cuisine, trees, our relationships and all sorts of traditions and customs that have little to do with practicality, effectiveness or what might actually be good for us.

The truth is, while some old things are as good or better than new things, there is no evidence to suggest that something is better just because it’s old. As time goes on, the new will become the new old, and tomorrow we’ll be resisting something else that somebody else wants to do.

Conclusions

I doubt I’ll change many minds with this post. It is the nature of entrenched opinions to remain deeply lodged. That’s fine, because as I said at front, it’s not my intention to sell anyone on adopting mesh heads.

I see the resistance to mesh heads, however, as symptomatic of a wider phenomenon that seems to me at odds with what I imagine Second Life residents to be all about.

On one hand we are innovators and very early adopters of something very, very new; and on the other hand we are conservative and old-fashioned, with a very strong and vocal resistance to change.

This conservative side of us, when confronted with change, seems able to so easily trot out the tired clichés to maintain the status quo in so many facets of our lives, even online.

While we protest, and justify our ways, we feel compelled to point out every flaw in the new, as if the old was ever perfect, stifling progress with every unfounded claim and erroneous supposition.

These anxious concerns, like so much of what we mistake for reality, gnaw at us for years until we finally put things into perspective and climb over the walls that we think protect us from what we do not yet know.

This cycle is so reliably repetitive. It’s enough to make one yawn. Yet, it never fails to fascinate me, go figure.

Yawning Canary_007

How to approach a woman in Second Life

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Being alone does not equal being lonely

I do a lot of my writing and reading while alone in Second Life. One of the things I enjoy is the feeling of being on a beach or another quiet place while doing it. I just love tapping away on my keyboard, while hearing the sounds of the surf mixing with the calls of the birds.

This serene moment can be very easily interrupted  – with all the subtlety of a scratched vinyl record – by being IMed without warning.

If it’s from a friend, or someone I know, I’m typically delighted. If I don’t know the sender however, I might be less welcoming.

The unsolicited IMs I receive typically come from males. Often, he will be out of my field of vision (or not anywhere near me, for that matter). Frequently, the message will be phrased as a compliment about my appearance – and very often limited to certain body parts. This happens to me pretty much every time I visit a public beach or dance venue in Second Life, or even when I’m stood somewhere at Basilique.

As a result of unwanted interruptions, like Ella writes in her post on this topic in The SL Naturist, I’ve also reduced my visits to public (and specifically nude) beaches – preferring to sit alone on my private beach instead – where at least I can stay somewhat invisible, through parcel privacy settings.

Note: First, from here on in, the “you” and “your” applies only if you are someone who uses these less than ideal approaches. If you don’t, don’t take it personally. Second, this is only opinion, not evidence-based suggestions – although what a great survey that’d be, eh?

There are three problems with your approach: First, your choice to use IM and not local chat. Second, your choice to do so while remaining out of my field of vision. Third, the obnoxiously and hopeless unoriginal content of your message that amounts to nothing but a waste of time for all concerned. In most cases, this applies regardless of place – be it a beach, a bar, a dance club, a town square, or anywhere else I go in Second Life.

Coffee Girl

Use local chat

Let’s talk about the difference between IM and local chat for a moment. For me, my IM is a private message space. I don’t IM anyone unless I have something personal, or important, to say or ask them. While I don’t terribly mind an IM from someone who I don’t yet know, I find it intrusive, when I realise (in very little time I should add) the real intent behind your private message, which might sound a bit like this:

You: “Hey, u want 2 go somewhere private 4 some dancing or fun?”

Me: “Wow, sure! Thanks for IMing me out of the blue with an invite for what sounds like an amazing time when I was so bored here doing absolutely nothing!”

Seriously, has an exchange like the one I suggest above ever happened unless it was in jest?

One of the problems with IM (and the internet in general for that matter) is that it gives you a false sense of personal license to say things you’re unlikely to say to someone face to face. At least in local, there is a degree of public accountability that might help your brain govern the reigns controlling your horny typing fingers. This is certainly not foolproof, but perhaps that one-second pause as you consider the public effects of your utterance in local chat, might just do the trick.

Granted, an IM is sometimes the only way one can cut through the clutter of local to get someone’s attention. If you’re going to use IM for your approach, then it had better be

  • Literate, meaning free of spelling mistakes and grammar crimes – e.g. U is not an appropriate substitute for the pronoun “you”. Similarly, 2 and 4 is not a good stand in for the prepositions “to” and “for”. Not everyone cares about this, but people will rarely discount you for using good spelling and grammar, so why not play the percentages here?
  • Original, meaning something considerably deeper than “hi” followed by minutes of deafening silence.
  • Sensical. Please don’t assume that someone sitting alone is lonely or depressed. Please also don’t assume that they’d rather be with someone, or dancing, or somewhere other than where they’ve chosen to be.
  • Non-sexual. Just because it’s Second Life doesn’t mean that everyone is ready and willing to become intimate at your immediate suggestion. Life is not like a pornographic movie, and neither is Second Life.

Still, even the most literate, original, sensical and non-sexual IM might still be intrusive.

Because an IM alerts me with a sound designed to get my attention, your unsolicited IM is like you walking up behind me, and poking my shoulder to get it. If you do that, your message had better matter.

When you do it from the other side of the sim, it’s like you’re hiding in the bushes, only poking your head up to throw a small pebble at the back of my head in the hopes I’ll respond.

There are solutions to this problem; none of them ideal. I could, for instance, mute my sound. Part of the point of being in Second Life while doing something else, however, is enjoying the sounds I hear. I could switch on DND, but then I might miss important IMs from my friends. I might switch on DND except for IMs from friends, but then I might miss an important IM from someone related to business issues about my region, or my other projects inworld. I might filter my IMs for blocked keyword phrases. That sounds fine on paper, but I have a feeling it’d be a pretty long and loathsome project typing every offensive keyword phrase that you may use in a lecherous pick up line.

I am guessing one of the reasons you do approach by IM is because you can thereby avoid the perceived humiliation of being ignored; or worse, risk my flat-out public rejection of your approach.

Using local chat, especially when others might near, shows confidence. A part of me sometimes thinks that you’d be embarrassed by your lack of smoothness if anyone else heard your approach in local chat; so, lucky me, you’ve chosen instead to privately whisper your proposal in my ear.

Perhaps another reason for IMing instead of using local chat is because I am seated outside of your local chat range, which brings me to the next issue.

Coffee Girl 2

Use your legs

After all my time as a resident, I still fail to understand the resistance to walking in Second Life. It’s not like it even burns calories. Instead of walking over, it is much more common for people to try their luck from over hundreds of metres away.

First off, It strikes me as lazy. It makes me think you are simply running a numbers game, IMing every vaguely feminine-sounding name on your Nearby list, in the hope that your textual sex missile hits a receptive bullseye.

Second, it’s creepy. It’s like getting a call on my mobile from an unknown number and hearing the person on the other end talk to me as if they see me. Imagine this happening in real-life:

“Hey” said the disembodied voice on the mobile, “you are so sexy.”

Just pondering it makes my skin crawl.

Far better, regardless of your intent, would have been to take the effort to walk nearby, then stop while standing at a reasonably safe distance and saying a simple “Hello” in local chat. Getting your IM from a distant and unseen location feels a bit like you’re observing me through the virtual equivalent of power-zoom binoculars. And no, I don’t like that.

Beyond the creepiness factor, when you zoom in on me from a far distance, you have a distinct advantage over me by seeing me without me seeing you. It may sound superficial, but I tend to like to see who is approaching me, just like I’d assume you like to see whom you approach. It’s only fair, right? And, if you’re hiding somewhere unseen because you assume your appearance might put me off, then perhaps it’s time to stop band-aiding the problem and upgrade your avatar’s appearance.

Lastly, walking over makes you stand out. Most people don’t seem to bother, so you’re already likely to get noticed which will make your approach all that much more intriguing.

Silky's Café

Use your brain

Finally, let’s talk about your approach.

Don’t use a cheesy pick up line you found somewhere on the internet or in some book. The chances of me not being to detect it within a heartbeat of its utterance is next to nil. Even if I don’t immediately recognise it, if it sounds canned, it probably is.

Do not, under any circumstances in the known universe, use any of these:

If you’re going to start your approach with a simple “Hello”, then at least have the foresight to have your next line ready. Here’s one suggestion that is unlikely to fail:

“I’d like to chat, if you’d care to join me.”

Simple. Direct. Honest. You get the picture. Ask permission to chat, without sounding needy. Which means, of course, the onus is on you to accept my response for what it is and not get all snotty if it’s not what you want to hear. If I do want to chat, what else might you say? Here are some suggestions:

  • The research approach: “I’m curious about what women like to do on dates in Second Life, can you help me out?”
  • The ‘I need help’ approach: “I’m wondering, do you know what’s fun to do on this sim?”
  • The opinion opener: “I’d like to ask your opinion on something, what do you think of this hairstyle on me?”

Now you’re asking for my help. Why is this useful? First, people – in general – like it when you ask them what they think, as opposed to hearing all about what you think. Most people don’t really care about what you think until they feel they can trust your opinion anyway, which might develop over the course of a conversation. Second, asking someone’s opinion about something makes them think you are interested in what they have to say, and trust them to give you good advice. Third, you might actually learn something.

From here, I’m afraid it’s up to you. I’d bet the farm, however, that you find first approaches more challenging than the conversations that might follow. Most people ease into things quite naturally, allowing the conversation to flow where it will organically lead.

One last thing, don’t IM me a generic pick up line that you have also sent my friend sitting next to me. Believe it or not, we compare notes.

The Second Life Bloggers Quick and Easy Guide to SEO

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Becky:

A few weeks ago I made a case for the importance of search for your Second Life blog. This weekend, I wrote a post on how to do it!

Below is the third post in my series on how to bring more traffic to your Second Life blog for SL Blogger Support. If you have an SL blog, please have a look and remember to subscribe to SL Blogger Support while you’re there.

This post is beginner level, but even so the length and detail is rather epic because I wanted to make it easy to find all the relevant information about this subject in one easy to bookmark place. I hope you enjoy it!

Originally posted on [SL] Blogger Support:

You’ve worked damn hard on your blog posts. You’ve spent hours and hours setting up the pictures, editing them in Photoshop, writing them, completing your credits, and then sharing them on social media. Wouldn’t it be nice for people searching for what you write about to also find your stuff?

Sure it would, but I know you don’t want to make a career of this, so I’m going to give the bare-bones on this SEO stuff. And, I’m going to give it to you in levels – so that you can decide what you do, and what you don’t.

“What is this ‘SEO’ you speak of?”

SEO is an acronym for Search Engine Optimisation, which is the process of affecting the visibility of a website in a search engine’s unpaid results. “Oh, come on Becky! I only blog for fun, why do I need to know this?”

Well, you don’t. But if…

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Favourite photos from the Second Life Inworld Meetup at Basilique

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The Second Life Inworld Meetup at Basilique turned out to be the mother of all events. We had a massive turn out that exceeded my expectations – 104 people at peak. Inara Pey did a lovely job of creatively reporting the happenings, and Huckleberry Hax shared a wonderfully introspective perspective on the day’s events. I don’t have much to add to their words, so I’d like to use this post to share my favourite photographs of the event, and perhaps a few suggestions for the future at the end of this post.

Xiola Linden kicked things off by saying: “This is a meet up folks – we’re just here to hang out and take pics – so I hope you have your snappers ready to take lots of pics and share them to flickr!”

Given the crowds, I can imagine it might have been a bit tough for people to even move, let alone get many decent photos. Nevertheless, some managed to pull it off – and here is what they got.

As always with Flickr embeds, you can click the pictures to visit the photographer’s photo on Flickr, and if you like their work, follow their Photostream.

Crowd02

Apollo Scribe took this impressive aerial shot from a rooftop perspective. Just gaze at all those lovely shadows. I’m pretty sure this was taken at just around the moment the Lindens arrived.

Crowd03

He must have quickly raced down the fire escape to capture this shot looking towards the landing point. How he managed to capture this level of detail with so many avatars present is hard for me to fathom. I also love the clean blue windlight he chose for this image – such a great mood capture. I can spot several friends in this picture, including Wurfi (who only just published his own images from the event) on the bench. I am near the middle there, somewhere.

crowd04

This picture above – also by Apollo, is just as lovely. The dalmatian pictured is Sophie, our resident patrol dog.

Moving on to Caity Tobias’s excellent photos, below we have my friend Kerena, sitting on the edge of things (which tends to be her favourite spot) quietly observing the crowd from a safe distance.

Basilique - LL Inworld meet up - 14 may 2015 - III

Here is another terrific capture below – this time with name tags on – that Caity aptly entitled “Madness”. Interestingly, this is only showing one-quarter of the scene, around one side of the fountain. The other three sides were just as jammed.

Basilique - LL inworld meet up - 14 may 2015 - the madness...

Here’s a great close-up shot of Xiola Linden, doing her best Rosie the Riveter impression in front of Harvey’s Bar:

Basilique - LL inworld meet up - 14 may 2015 - Xiola Linden

And below is a terrific capture Caity took of me just before the event when we were chatting inside her new store Pose O’Clock. I remember feeling anxious at the time – and clearly trying not to show it – while hoping the event would go without a hitch.

Basilique - LL Inworld meet up 14 may 2015 - II

 

I couldn’t do much with my own camera, because I was trying to follow the local chat – which can get tremendously disorienting with so many people chiming in. I did, however, manage to capture these two minimap screenshots of people in the Piazza before the Lindens arrived:

Before the Lindens arrived

Before the Lindens arrived

And after the Lindens arrived. If you look very closely, you can see a few blue dots, those are Lindens:

After the Lindens arrived

After the Lindens arrived

I agree with Huck, for me, the event felt surreal, but perhaps for different reasons.

I’m used to being the master of ceremonies at most events held at Basilique. I typically have a plan, and orchestrate how things go. This time however, after a brief chat with Xiola before the event, I just let it all go, stepped back, and watched things as they happened.

I didn’t really see much in the way of in-depth conversation (unless it happened in IM). Some people were asking the Lindens direct questions about items of greater concern, (e.g. questions like when Sansar would be ready for beta testing).

To my knowledge, the Lindens didn’t answer any of these questions, which was probably a good idea. Any questions would have been very difficult to answer at any length, due to the rapidity of the local chat. And even if there were, the answers would have been quickly lost without a lot of scrolling.

These type of events are not suitable for serious discussion of topics. They’re mainly opportunities to meet up (which is what it says on the tin, after all), and as photo opportunities.

While I think these events have merit; personally, I’d like to see a few different formats tried. It would be interesting to attend smaller events (say with a cap of 25 people) with more organised discussion in addition to these – more like town meetings – or my own Basilique Chat Salons.

I think another format option (not necessarily instead, but in addition) might be to for the Lindens to give short presentations in voice – along the style of 20 minute TED talks – on what they do at work and how their work contributes to what we might see and experience inworld. Ideally, they’d keep things non-technical and relatable to the average resident. These could then be followed by the typical Q/A sessions lasting around 10 minutes.

Another idea might be for the Lindens to visit existing events held by residents inworld – unannounced – so they can get a chance to do the things residents typically do, and engage in more manageable conversations of substance. I think that’d be more natural for us, and I think it might even be easier on them. I can’t imagine getting IMed by nearly 100 residents all asking for a Linden Teddy Bear at once is anyone’s idea of a chilled outing.

Nevertheless, it’s a good start, and these events are clearly popular among residents so far – and seemingly getting more and more popular. I’m wondering, however, how long the novelty of simply seeing and superficially chatting with Lindens inworld might last.

With that said, while I think these events are great, I hope to see more varied approaches and continued events in the future.

The oddness of one hundred avatars

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Becky:

This is a wonderfully written summary of the events of May 14th at Basilique, as chronicled by Huckleberry Hax. Read and enjoy!

Originally posted on What the Huck?:

Meeting the Lindens on 14 May

The Basilique is a sleepy little Italian town.  More and more often now I find myself there, crossing the square from the waterside landing point on my short walk to the small clubhouse at the far corner, where the weekly salon discussion event attracts sometimes up to thirty or so avatars.  Thirty or so avatars feels like a big number, especially when they’re crammed into that small room.  It’s standing room only on a busy night and navigating my way through a laggy room full of half-rezzed attendees is a precision operation.  Before I had fibre optic, I used to dream about how lightning-fast people and props would rez once I had a high speed connection; it turns out it doesn’t quite work that way.

The square itself, though, is usually peaceful.  Perhaps a light sprinkling of people stand around chatting in front of…

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A fistful of Lindens

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Becky:

The best post I’ve read on the most recent Linden Lab meetup at Basilique – it’s like being there ;)

Originally posted on Inara Pey: Living in a Modem World:

People start to re-gather for the meet-up following the region restart People start to re-gather for the meet-up following the region restart

The sun was high overhead, the stones of the piazza baking under its glare, the wet splash of the fountain seductive in the heat. The rumours had clearly spread well beyond the high walls and paved paths of the town; with ninety minutes to go, folk were drifting in from far and wide, all drawn by the rumours: the Lindens were heading back to town!

Keira Linden slips in... Keira Linden slips in…

Speculation was rife; how should the local law enforcement, known for their tough line on dress code and appearance, handle things? Would the Lead Cheese of this notorious gang of in-world outlanders be present? Would there be …. bears?!

The air was heavy with an expectation that weighed people down more than the heat of the sun; the town’s Mayoress was on-hand, keeping things as relaxed as possible as…

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