Exactly 1 year ago, on his 7th rezday, I had a great conversation with Ze Moo. Today, 365 days later, on his 8th rezday, I had another great Ze Moo rezday conversation. Only this year it wasn’t with him. The morning before Moofest (or as Agyness likes to call it, Shugarup Puttalicious!) I had a nice chat with Newton. Here, with Newton’s permission, is a slightly shortened and slightly cleaned up, but mostly verbatim, transcript of our conversation.
What is our community? What activities serve the most people in the deepest way? Is this VR space even the right space? Maybe I should just write about VR life. Avatar life. Fast posts about ideas. And don’t even look at stats. Just do your thing and leave it alone.
I love taking a vehicle and driving on or off the road in mainland as my sole activity in SL for a week at a time, or map dragging and trespassing (trespassing is a fabulous activity!). Some things are beautiful and some things are unimaginable. I equate this with a 3-D version of the early days of the WWW. Things found like the Fuck the United Nations Maid’s Cafe; the ubiquitous wildly textured temple-like dance club; the sim which started as a perfect rendition of an RL cultural site someone dreamed of perfectly archiving, but due to revenue concerns five years later has the added layer of a retail space for hi-tech enhanced mesh gonads… etc…
I did not proofread any of this so if something I said sounds idiotic, so be it. Activity: NO PROOFREADING
[08:40] Newton: So I was thinking bout the long ponderings you sent last night
[08:40] Vanessa: yes, that’s been “resolved” and “unresolved”… and circled around a couple of times in my brain since then already! 😛
[08:41] Newton: and how people are people and a medium doesn’t really mitigate the human thing. Well it’s the artist’s struggle
[08:41] Newton: and plus, “For metaphysicians such as Heidegger we are never at home in the world we are hurled into, with ‘angst’ (‘dread’ or ‘anxiety’) seen as intrinsic to existence.”
[08:42] Newton: Then you’re alright
[08:42] Vanessa: well… the questions are still there…
[08:42] Vanessa: haha, I liked your “no proofreading”
[08:44] Newton: i kind of stopped doing that in RL too
[08:44] Newton: well, selectively, “I know it’s important that this gets said, even if I’m saying things I don’t think I mean to” kind of thing
Audience & Economy
[08:46] Vanessa: I have 2 thoughts ATM, 1 is the standard communication question… “who is your audience?” If you write without answering that first, you’re likely to not communicate whatever you intended to. Who IS my audience?
[08:47] Newton: You are totally unique in what you’re doing – I have to say that. I think you’re way way ahead of all of this stuff
[08:47] Newton: the tie-in between RL and meta
[08:47] Newton: people just aren’t totally there yet mentally
[08:48] Vanessa: 2nd thought is that a hallmark of art is Economy. Art so often says a lot, without saying so much. So all the machinations of a daily blog almost invite you into being overly specific in a medium that finds so much power with simple gestures…
[08:48] Newton: You’re not about “you”. You’re about the machine elves
[08:49] Vanessa: Then again… that economy was perhaps at its zenith in modernism’s abstraction… in postmodernism a lot of it is about all the messy details that modernism didn’t want to talk about… maybe I’m an Art Ethnographer?
[08:50] Vanessa: haha… which is a cool sounding title… but doesn’t necessarily get any closter to WTF I’m doing / striving for / accomplishing, in these parts
[08:51] Newton: yeah Ethnographer
[08:51] Newton: you don’t just whip that out casually
[08:51] Newton: all roads lead to beaches with palm trees
[08:51] Newton: in the virtual sphere
[08:51] Vanessa: I love those palm trees
[08:52] Vanessa: you have to have a pretty strong wind for most trees to move
[08:52] Vanessa: but the palm trees reflect even the slightest breeze
[08:54] Newton: I see you put yourself outside of things here the way a lot of people don’t. You’re very invested in an end result built by a group. Which is a lovely thing, to throw out an idea and see what people do with it. the challenge is that people WILL do something with it
[08:56] Newton: in some ways, you can start with the framework and then it can be like throwing blobs of paint at a wall after that, but I don’t think it’s that simple. With any art whether done alone or with a group you sometimes try again and again and again, and then suddenly magic occurs
[08:57] Newton: the angst i was hearing was that you maybe want stronger momentum from others
[08:57] Vanessa: in the art history books they don’t devote that much to all those “failures”… and in the semi-biographical movies it’s just a montage of adversity till the inevitable triumph
[08:58] Newton: and you take a lot of risks with your generous format – you’ll see things that look like failures among the successes more than others
[09:00] Vanessa: if you make paintings and people buy them… that’s validation. If you write scholarly articles or books and they get published by prestigious journals or academic presses, that’s validation… and probably tenure and a higher salary and a lighter teaching load. If you’re going to “embed” yourself in cyberspace… then what’s your metric for having impact of some sort? Haha, I just violated Neoblogosphere Rule #3 -don’t look at metrics! 😛
[09:00] Newton: That’s a great question. Because you are a pioneer, and it hasn’t been quantified.
I do SL
[09:01] Newton: I’ve started telling people I do SL.
[09:01] Newton: you know what’s hilarious
[09:01] Newton: my old boyfriend was/is a transvestite
[09:02] Newton: he’s married to a woman – they appear straight or alternative as the situation merits
[09:02] Newton: they’re educated intellectuals and they are very “out” in the straight/gay/queer etc etc scene at events etc
[09:02] Newton: sex positive blah blah blah
[09:03] Newton: I told Mikey I’m on SL and he said – in all seriousness
[09:03] Newton: “I’d probably never tell people I do that”
[09:04] Vanessa: Mikey is your transvestite ex?
[09:04] Newton: yeah
[09:05] Vanessa: so he’s totally out about all of his identity stuff… but tells you to never admit you do SL! 😛
[09:05] Newton: The metaverse is a new social realm
[09:05] Vanessa: has any platform ever had as bad a reputation as SL?
[09:05] Newton: where rights and recognition and god forbid monetization and EVERYTHING are yet to come, but I”m stating the obvious
[09:05] Newton: I really can’t think of one
[09:05] Newton: WoW kind of does
[09:05] Vanessa: oh does it?
[09:06] Newton: in that many people don’t understand it and think of it as debauchery
[09:06] Vanessa: I thought WoW made bazillions and everyone was using it as the metaphor for everything
[09:06] Newton: I’d say WoW is a bit better though
[09:06] Newton: yeah
[09:06] Newton: but most people think of SL as a 3D porn game
[09:08] Newton: do you have a minute to come to this place
[09:08] Vanessa: sure
[09:08] Newton: Kauna menswear
[09:09] Newton: some artists have crossed over and got grants from universities and whatever
[09:09] Vanessa: Hey Newton
[09:09] Newton: Hey Vanessa
[09:09] Newton: This is a really nice place – pick something out and I’ll buy you a non-rezday gift
[09:11] Vanessa: The university grant work I’ve seen IS nice work… but IDK… I guess it isn’t the socio-cultural investigation that I’m interested in
[09:11] Vanessa: so that the university grant was for “strong 3D production”… not meta-analysis…
[09:11] Newton: right, big difference
[09:11] Newton: you border on being like, a sociologist
[09:12] Vanessa: I’m finally actually looking at the stuff here
[09:12] Vanessa: men get short shrift in these parts! Especially in apparel!
[09:13] Newton: oh there’s some great men’s stuff around. men just hate shopping
[09:13] Vanessa: of course that’s true IRL in a way
[09:13] Newton: i have on a long jacket from here
[09:13] Vanessa: smashing!
[09:14] Newton: I spent a lot of time trying for a Thin White Duke look
[09:14] Vanessa: haha, I think you’ve mastered it!
[09:14] Newton: I’ve delved rather deeply into being a man here
[09:15] Vanessa: well THIS place is definitely motivating!
[09:18] Newton: it’s fun
[09:19] Newton: the mesh jackets aren’t as great on gals – the shoulders are always too big
[09:20] Vanessa: so, I notice you smoke… and of course, smoking DOES NOT cause cancer in VR. And it’s very cool. But it is appreciating, or fetishizing something that’s not such a great idea IRL… which makes me think of the never ending VR body debate… Someone like Kris Schomaker has a large body type IRL, and she made Gracie Kendal a tall, thin avatar in VR. She said when she walked around in that avatar that she felt like herself for the first time in her life. That’s powerful! So is it “good” to be able to enjoy something in VR that’s problematic or challenging IRL? Or is it problematic to celebrate thin bodies or tobacco use in VR, when you’re theoretically pushing back on RL… pushing that “Victoria’s Secret ‘norm'” etc…
[09:21] Newton: interesting
[09:21] Newton: I do see how things done in SL have a RL impact
[09:22] Newton: I think I went through a phase where I shopped more in RL
[09:22] Newton: Oh and I had a mole removed in RL because of SL
[09:22] Newton: but with the smoking, I did LOVE smoking at one point in my life
[09:22] Newton: I don’t smoke in RL
[09:23] Vanessa: in RL some people go to great lengths to “fix” “imperfections”… others choose to play the hand they’re dealt… in VR you have to go to great lengths to HAVE imperfections!
[09:23] Newton: indeed
[09:24] Newton: I think it’s ok for avatars to be fallible in one way or another
[09:24] Newton: physically or even in their personality
[09:24] Newton: what’s pretty interesting is to see how the opposite gender reacts to you
[09:24] Newton: it opened my eyes way up
New Clothes (and they fit just right)
[09:28] Newton: want the shoesies?
[09:28] Vanessa: okies
[09:29] Vanessa: I like the one with the lime green sole! And the turquoise laces! Really a great shop!
[09:30] Newton: you can play with those forever!!
[09:30] Newton: so many options
[09:30] Newton: i bought it as a gift – so hopefully it got to you
[09:31] Vanessa: hmm…
[09:33] Vanessa: I guess one “problem” I have… besides the “metric” thing… is that so many peeps here “RP Artist” or fashionista etc… but they’re largely uneducated… I hope I’m not being elitist about that, but I guess I sort of feel that so many choices are entirely about surface. I like surface too, sure. But I think if they’d studied art… or anthropology or something… that they could still create as they liked, but it might tend to resonate a bit more deeply…
[09:34] Newton: oh that stratification will happen
[09:34] Newton: people without access to the education will ultimately be in the same pool as in regular society
[09:34] Newton: but pursuing creative dreams doesn’t have to be about being accepted by the establishment
[09:35] Newton: conversely it’s normal to crave people who speak your language
[09:35] Newton: it’s a lexicon though. There of course is history attached to the lexicon and important cultural references, but at the same time ideas can be articulated without that. It’s similar to philosophy, a friend will send me this article he deems to be amazing, and it’s choc full of references to other things. You can’t get at the core resonance without exposure to those other things of course.
[09:36] Newton: but isn’t successful art successful because it speaks on multiple levels?
I like Katy Perry and Katy Perry likes me
[09:37] Vanessa: then again… Katy Perry has 63.1 million twitter followers… and Piplotti Rist has… well… she isn’t even on twitter…
[09:37] Newton: man she has 63M followers
[09:37] Newton: that’s a machine you’re talking about now haha
[09:37] Newton: and they are for the uneducated
[09:37] Newton: I can totally understand the craving to continue speaking about art on the level you have in school, and in whatever community you’re still in in RL as a result, articulating ideas in a certain way, but aren’t there others like that in SL?
[09:38] Newton: well not just speaking, getting from point a to point b in a different way
[09:40] Vanessa: haha, you finally got to the bottom of my point I think! Yes, I’d like to connect with more “ARTiculating” peeps in VR… you’re right they must be here… and yes I have a few friends… but I’m mostly not so aware of who / where they are, or maybe I know more of them than I realize and I’m not engaging with them in the most productive ways?
[09:41] Newton: maybe, I don’t know!
[09:42] Newton: I guess they aren’t “here” yet?
[09:42] Vanessa: ok then — we’ve solved a lot!
[09:42] Vanessa: 1. My new website will be: ARTiculating
[09:42] Vanessa: 2. My new display name will be: Katy Perry
[09:43] Newton: you’re really going out on the edge
[09:43] Vanessa: btw, last time I looked she had 53 million followers… she’s gained 10 million in less than 6 months!
[09:43] Newton: i don’t know a single one of her songs
[09:44] Vanessa: Justin Bieber’s keeping up with her… but they’re leaving Barack Obama & Taylor Swift in the dust! 😛
[09:45] Vanessa: friendorfollow.com/twitter/most-followers
[09:46] Newton: This list right here says everything you need to know about your audience
[09:46] Newton: or rather, how things are progressing
[09:46] Newton: Clay Shirky has some wonderful writings about the state of things, and a few years ago he felt like we were in the gutenberg stage, where people who could afford it were just kind of writing about themselves (people who could afford to print books)
[09:48] Newton: the explosion of really using this stuff well has’t happened yet, and the biggest, most important change is that unlike TV and Radio, masses of people can speak BACK to you
[09:48] Vanessa: well, ALL new media comes with utopian dreams
[09:48] Vanessa: and so far, ALL new media has eventually been tamed
[09:49] Newton: right now it feels like a utopian dream
[09:49] Vanessa: the verdict isn’t in yet on The Internet
[09:49] Newton: more will happen
[09:49] Vanessa: but it feels like it’s largely going the way of previous media
[09:49] Newton: or else it will end the world
[09:49] Newton: it can be regulated
[09:49] Newton: but there are people who know that and resist it
[09:50] Vanessa: I think for the bulk of population “Facebook TV” won’t be that different from oldschool tv…
[09:50] Vanessa: but, as you say, I do think there will be a “resistance”, more substantial than Community Access TV was!
[09:51] Newton: man I Loved that community access
[09:51] Vanessa: so again, the “who is the audience” question matters!
[09:52] Newton: I mean here, it’s easy to just decide to “fill something up”
[09:53] Newton: you’re not required to entertain anyone but yourself. But for you the audience is intrinsic
[09:53] Newton: (you do need smarter people to have conversations with haaa!!!)
[09:55] Newton: did you get the shoes – if you didn’t we can go over to redelivery, and I need to go soon alas
[09:55] Vanessa: that’s an interesting idea
[09:55] Vanessa: that “here”… SL… VR… Cyberspace… The Net… RL… there is a certain “you can just fill something up” quality to any / all of it. And we often reward people if they keep filling things up for long enough
[09:56] Vanessa: hmm.. I don’t think I got shoes…
[09:56] Newton: ok come over here
[09:56] Vanessa: received!!
[09:57] Vanessa: aww, thankies Newton!
[09:57] Vanessa: xo
[09:57] Newton: super
[09:57] Newton: you’re most welcome!
[09:57] Vanessa: maybe…
[09:57] Newton: i guess I’ll stop chain smoking – you’re right
[09:57] Vanessa: to sum up the un-sum-upable
[09:59] Vanessa: if I focused on having a clear vision… more about content… less about metrics… then maybe not having the traffic of a hot blog or Flickr wouldn’t matter…. if you’re clear on who you are (or might be) and what you have to say (or might say) then that should feel right!
[10:00] Newton: I don’t think you should measure the success of what you’re doing by metrics
[10:00] Newton: but the angst of getting participants won’t go away, with your format.
[10:01] Newton: but it’s a great format!!!
[10:01] Newton: there are caveats of course
[10:01] Vanessa: well… “metrics” sounds so cold and pandering… but you sort of have to have “engagement”… if nobody’s listening… then what IS the point? But I guess THIS conversation IS engagement! So QED!
[10:01] Newton: that’s the caveat – you obviously want engagement, you want people to come and see what you did, or to interact in some way
[10:02] Newton: that’s the purpose – not to just please yourself
[10:02] Newton: but saying the fashion blogger gets more traffic than you – all that really tells you is that there are more people on the grid who like fashion blogs
[10:02] Vanessa: or that Katy Perry has more followers that Piplotti Rist
[10:02] Newton: is your audience on the grid?
[10:03] Vanessa: well, that’s the REAL question!
[10:03] Newton: they are getting here
[10:03] Newton: listen, Oculus Rift, there’s a major threshold right now, it will foment more curiosity
[10:03] Newton: and then there’s always the notion of outreach
[10:09] Newton: all it takes is the right vision
[10:10] Newton: monetizing the anonymous matters of the heart is a big thing here too
[10:10] Vanessa: that was a powerful sentence!
[10:11] Newton: I don’t know what their revenue stream looks like, but there are a ton of people who come here just to find others to talk to – they could care less about anything anyone is creating
[10:11] Newton: and many times they are very high level academics themselves
[10:11] Newton: but they are also many times over 55 or 60
[10:11] Newton: sectors for the tapping
[10:12] Vanessa: I’m sure there are MANY subcultures here!
[10:13] Vanessa: OMG, the HUD for these shoes is huge!
[10:15] Vanessa: coolest shoes ever!
[10:15] Vanessa: thankies!!
[10:18] Newton: i’m looking at them
[10:18] Newton: wow they are awesome 🙂
[10:18] Vanessa: TWO huds
[10:18] Newton: and of course there is the consumerism haha
[10:18] Newton: the maker of this stuff is really good, technically and aesthetically
VR Burning Man
[10:26] Newton: we could just devote our energy to changing the perception of SL
[10:26] Newton: My friend mikey is one degree of separation from all the Oakland Burners
[10:26] Newton: I could really get this place some CRED
[10:27] Vanessa: BM is very celebrated… and SL is scorned… but I bet SL has more engaged users, than the total number of peeps who have ever been to BM!
[10:27] Newton: yes
[10:27] Newton: AND a virtual BM
[10:27] Newton: Soto is a huge burner in RL and in SL
[10:29] Vanessa: the SL “Burn2” is sort of funny… in that the whole place is ALREADY BM!
[10:30] Newton: when you mentioned the music venues it reminded me of BM here actually
[10:30] Newton: when Burn2 is going, the place is kind of anchored by four or six very large music and dancing venues
[10:30] Newton: some of which are not really “possible” IRL
[10:32] Newton: singularity tribe had a good one
[10:33] Newton: marie was really into EMD for a while here
[10:33] Newton: there are some solid groups, but I have no sense that they socialize
[10:33] Newton: they seem to just go to listen, but the avis are unique and interesting
[10:36] Vanessa: do you think I should try to make them a little more colorful? I notice I used green twice
[10:45] Newton: i was hankering for some red
[10:45] Newton: looking great
[10:46] Vanessa: yes, the red heels and laces are great… if you can believe it, red isn’t an option on the leather parts!
[10:47] Newton: that’s amazing!!
[10:47] Vanessa: even “infinite” has its limits!
[10:47] Newton: I had an idea for one of those autonomous projects: “Trespassing”
[10:48] Vanessa: Well, even though the shoes do have “crazy options”.. I think they’re mostly focused on more traditional looks…
[10:48] Newton: but you can make them untraditional which is nice
[10:48] Vanessa: “trespassing” sounds promising!
[10:48] Newton: the simple activity is to just map drag and go into people’s private spaces and record things
[10:49] Newton: What I usually have done is to then send them a note, a compliment and a photo
[10:49] Vanessa: and “map drag” means what exactly?
[10:49] Newton: you open the SL map and you drag it around and decide where to go on a sort of whim
[10:49] Newton: if I had more time we could map drag right now
[10:50] Newton: I’ve found great spaces that way
[10:51] Vanessa: so it’s not crossing ban lines or anything like that? it’s just randomly dropping in someplace?
[10:51] Newton: well you can’t really cross ban lines
[10:51] Newton: but sometimes after you’ve contacted the person they put up ban lines
[10:51] Vanessa: oh, that’s funny!
[10:51] Vanessa: “Map Dragging”
[10:51] Vanessa: so it’s “legal”… but might or might not annoy someone…
[10:52] Newton: right
[10:52] Newton: and i’d say 2 out of 5 times you really stay someplace
[10:52] Vanessa: “stay” as in find something worth checking out for a while?
[10:52] Newton: right
[10:53] Newton: or if the door is locked, sit on a chair
[10:53] Newton: those looks into people’s environments
[10:53] Newton: I know it’s intrusive, but you really are looking into part of a person’s soul
[10:54] Vanessa: so you’ve done this as a “personal” / “private” exploration… have you published any of that online?
[10:54] Newton: i started to put pics on flickr
[10:54] Newton: and i have taken a lot of pics which are in my inventory
[10:55] Newton: that could be a good blog
[10:55] Vanessa: oh yes
[10:55] Newton: and people could add to it
[10:55] Vanessa: or a nice “challenge”
[10:56] Newton: do your challenges technically have deadlines?
[10:56] Vanessa: wow, 170cm feels even shorter when you aren’t in heels
[10:56] Vanessa: no, I’m posting them on Fridays, but peeps really can do them any time, weeks or months later if they like
[10:57] Vanessa: You should see what Pay’s doing with the Role Exchange challenge…
[10:58] Vanessa: paywriter.tumblr.com/post/107465105062/payboi01
[11:01] Newton: great! so her avi is now kind of an androgyne?
[11:01] Newton: that’s cool :))
[11:02] Vanessa: for the “Avatar in a Box” we got dozens of “fashion photo shoots”, which is cool, but this one response to Role Reversal – that’s pretty great, that someone’s gone off in some investigation
[11:03] Vanessa: so I like “ARTiculate”
[11:03] Vanessa: and also “INVESTigation”
[11:04] Vanessa: nothing against taking or manufacturing photos, but that it’s more than producing an image, which can be so much about surface
[11:04] Newton: no, but activity and reportage
[11:04] Vanessa: that there’s a depth of investigation to whatever the work or process is
[11:05] Newton: sure !
[11:05] Newton: ok, I’ve got to go
[11:05] Vanessa: great
[11:05] Vanessa: done!
[11:05] Vanessa: Next!
[11:05] Newton: lol
[11:05] Newton: “to be continued!”
[11:05] Newton: thanks, and I love what you’ve done with them shosies too
[11:05] Newton: see you lady
[11:05] Vanessa: aww
[11:05] Vanessa: thankies!!
[11:06] Vanessa: I’m just a midget in a tall person’s world! 😀
[11:06] Second Life: User not online – message will be stored and delivered later.