In the great Immersion vs Augmentation1 debate, I’ve always thought of myself as being very immersionist. But after reading Becky’s post, The Instant IM and Honouring Transition Time in Second Life, I’ve had to wonder if I’m alive at all!
Transitioning into Becky’s Life
Becky’s point in the blog post is about giving each other “space” or transition time. I do have thoughts about this, but what was even more compelling for me was her description of her experience as an avatar. Her process. Her ritual. It is as if the scales have been lifted from my virtual eyes and at last I can appreciate what a truly pathetic avatar I am!
I’ll typically log into my bedroom in SL (which is where I always log off and is my designated “home” location). Then, I’ll instantly teleport to my platform at 1500 meters, finding it less laggy and distracting than my bedroom. I know I could simply reset my home location to my platform, but I don’t, because I like to “wake up” in my bedroom…
…I’ll choose my outfit for the day. I’ll typically customise it (removing sunglasses if the weather in RL is overcast, updating a pair of shoes that might be more sensible for the crispness in the RL air, perhaps adding a jacket, or changing my hairstyle to reflect what I’m wearing these days.
Then, finally, I feel ready. Sometimes, this process takes 5 minutes, sometimes it takes 10 minutes depending on the work to be done. Regardless, I take the time, and use these transition strategies to help me adjust and orient into the digital world because I find it peaceful and necessary.
OMG, what’s wrong with me!? I do love shopping for nice clothes and putting together outfits at least a little different than others tend to wear. But I’ll also wear the same clothes for days in a row! I wouldn’t do that IRL, would I?
Actually, on IRL days that I teach at the university, I do put on something that I hope is inspired and not the same as I wore last class. But on home studio days it’s not unusual for me to work half the day in the same sweatpants I rolled out of bed in. Am I 1/4 fashionista and 3/4 slob? And has my RL fashionslobista rolled, without my really noticing, into my VR life as well? Do I ever take Becky’s much valued transition time? Or just slide from process to process?
Although Becky’s narrative made me reflect a lot on my own habits, even more than about meee, I was truly fascinated by her ethnographic day in the life account. Her lived experience of transition time. There may be others who’ve blogged similar tales of immersion, but I’m not aware of them (please do leave a link in the comments below if you know of any!)
A Day in the Life
I guess in both RL & VR I can sometimes obsess a lot over my look… and then other times be in slobista mode. The precision and attention in Becky’s ritual suggests a very palpable sense of avatar aliveness to me. Whenever I go to a dance club I’ll see lots of avatars with very specific, very put-together looks. Whether they change it every day like Becky does, or keep that look over time, I don’t know. Do they too take personal transition time? Or just “beam in” and hit the dance ball? Either way, the specificity of Becky’s getting ready process is fascinating and inspiring. It feels almost like a challenge for me to pay more attention to my presence in world.
Perhaps my “excuse” is that I seem to always be working on a project. Do I ever take transition time? Or do I just slog away on project after project? I don’t login because it’s login time or because I want to socialize or dance or meet friends. Usually I’m working on a project and I login because I need to grab a SLURL for a blog post or take a photo of something or modify some contraption. It’s very common for me to be logged in but working in WordPress or Photoshop and not have brought the SL window forward in half hour. Then again, what I’m describing is “work.” It’s good to do work. I’m a Virtual Public Artist and I’m here to work. But does all work and no play make Vanessa an avatar in stinky clothes? And if you’ve seen the monumental productions at The Basilique, it’s not like Becky’s some party girl who isn’t working her butt off as much or lots more than me.
Now when it comes to blog posts on the other hand, I absolutely do “get dressed!” I’m pathologically incapable of just writing something and hitting “publish” without doubling, tripling, or quadrupling my prep time with Headings, Links, Images, and perhaps a Video! This, in spite of my recent Reply Post post about writing shorter, faster posts in 2015!
To take the time to be ready.
To be present in this world.
To be present in this life.
Et tu, Avatar?
Do you wear the same clothes 2 days in a row? RL? SL? Do you have a process of entering your VR world? A ritual? Do you give yourself transition time? Do you start an IM with Hi, how are you? Or just take up where the conversation left off last time?
- Getting ready is more interesting than results of preparations by Alex Dram, Creative Commons, Flickr
- Babes in toyland by Paolo Marconi, Creative Commons, Flickr
- There are many perspectives on Immersion and Augmentation. For me “augmentation” is like Hello, I’m Professor Blaylock from Oxford University, and this is my avatar ProfessorBot who will now show you around our virtual campus. And “immersion” would be like Hi, I’m Newsoul Blaylock, I’m an independent avatar who you can judge by the experiences we have in this world. I’m not beholden to any specific RL identity. Probably no one is 100 / 0 or 0 / 100 on this axis. We’re likely somewhere along the continuum. Still, it does often feel like one has an augmentationalist or immersionist perspective. I’ve always felt very silly second guessing Phillip Rosedale because, honestly, he’s a genius and I’m a user. Still, I think the reason I’m more excited about SL2 than I am about High Fidelity is that in spite of having created such an extraordinary world, he’s always seemed to focus on augmentation. As FreeWee asked in a recent blog post, Is the limit of augmentation Skype? My friend Soto thinks it’s as simple as Rosedale wanting to retire and believing that there’s more money in Enterprise than in fields of users. ↩