Posts Tagged 'appearance'

Conformity is NOT a Crime

I have a friendly acquaintance – a smart, talented, passionate woman. For the most part I respect her as I believe she tries to live a “good life”. What is a “good life” in my terms? One who tries to help and heal, not harm others. I don’t like her much, however. Her passion extends to her politics. And while we actually agree on many things, we don’t agree on all things. And despite her protestations of “people should be free”, no one should be persecuted, the victim of discrimination, this woman is incapable of living that way when it comes to politics. I am NEVER allowed the courtesy of polite acceptance of my differing views. No; she harangues, argues, contests, makes faces and exasperated noises should I not agree with her point of view. So that teaches me that I am only free to my view as long as it agrees with hers or as long as I do not voice mine. Which leads me to the discussions of virtual worlds and conformity…..

Conformity is NOT a crime. It’s not a sin. It’s not wrong. It’s not bad. Keep your dismay and your disillusionment off my appearance and behavior. You do NOT know me. Maybe for ME, doing in virtual worlds what YOU consider “conforming” is me rebelling from my regular persona. Maybe my body does not fit within normal physical measurements. Maybe my mental condition is such that acting “normal” in the virtual world would astound those who know me. Maybe I live my organic life in a fashion totally at odds with how I portray myself in avatar form. YOU DON’T KNOW. Even if you know my external trappings and behavior, you do NOT know what rages, swirls, flows, twists, soars, floats, plummets, dances within me. How DARE you presume that my avatar indicates a lack of creativity or individuality????? Who are you to judge MY choice of expression? As Jesus said: He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone. Oh Scarecrow, scared of a little fire??? Too much religion there? How about the saying usual credited to Native Americans: Before you criticize someone, walk a mile in their moccasins.

I’m not posting links. You know who you are. Look at your avatars. Are you a sphere? Are you amorphous flashing lights? A tornado? Is your avatar repellent by “normal” standards? Do you hangout with your friends or do you go every time to meet new and different people, different experiences? Do you have ‘your crowd’? How do you spend YOUR virtual time? Are you so different than I?

Virtual worlds do INDEED give us the ability to break free of our organic lives. And maybe for some of us, we take smaller steps than others might take. Maybe what we seek is the community of souls, the togetherness of being. Maybe by “conforming” in our looks, we can break past that particular obstacle and reach to the inner core of where we are truly ourselves. Maybe conformity actually frees us to be us.

I did it again – PWA (Posted while agitated). Maybe one of these days I will learn to rein in my inner-6 year old. Or maybe, just maybe, the blog convention has freed her.

Even Dervish Monks Care About Appearance

I know there are some of you out there who find my preoccupation with hair and boots a bit shallow. You are entitled to your opinion, of course (wrong though it may be). *grin* But I have pointed out to you time and again that most of my coworkers who come inworld immediately begin focusing on their avatar’s looks. I am in the process of moving my project from one grid to another. My host on the new grid immediately began raiding my inventory for clothing, AO and hair. I figure that is fair trade for hosting my work for free. *grin* And writing code for me.

It’s not just SecondLife and Opensim avatars, however, who worry about their appearance. My son plays Guild Wars. He is a Dervish Monk. /me nods indulgently. “That’s nice.” I have no idea who or what a dervish monk is, but hey, it sounds better than say “ogre of terror” or “orc” or something like that. This morning he came over to me and dropped $10 on my keyboard. I looked up at him, startled. “I used the credit card for my game” he said. “I needed to improve my outfit.” *grin* Ah, this IS my son, after all. *bigger grin* I replied “Far be it from me to criticize anyone who needs to improve their avatar, but you are right – *I* don’t need to pay that particular bill.” He invited me to his side of the table to see how he spent the money. (When he is home, we sit together at the table, laptops covering the surface. Yes, more than 2 laptops.)

First I got to see the plain vanilla Dervish Monk. I have to say that I thought the monk looked fine. Then the upgrade appeared – The Lich outfit. DEFINITELY much more impressive. (I could almost have been convinced to pay for that upgrade, it makes such a difference! *laugh*) Apparently the monk also has a fiery head costume as well. I’d never pay for THIS. Pumpkin head??? Fiery pumpkin head? Nah. I vote for The Lich.

Just remember – you only have one chance to make a first impression!

Birds of a Feather

I made a new friend today. Except she isn’t really a new friend, she just has a new look. Usually when Honour IMs me and says “I’ve been bad”, I know she’s been shopping. It’s usually either a skin for her or she’s treating me to some fantastical gorgeous outfit. This time, however, it was a new avatar for herself. Adorable!!!

We discussed what breed of bird this avatar might be. I rejected the descriptions of “hybrid” and “mutt” as not being anywhere near beautiful or special enough for this creature. I told Honour she needed to come up with a better story. So, she did. She is one of the long lost Gytis Birds. They are shy and don’t come out of hiding very often – so most people think they are extinct. As you can see, that is a mistake. *grin* I asked if the Gytis Birds were on the endangered species list and therefore a protected species.

Ahuva Heliosense: are you a protected species?
Honour McMillan: oh yes
Honour McMillan: mess with us and you’ll regret it 🙂
Ahuva Heliosense: rofl
Ahuva Heliosense: you carry concealed weapons?
Honour McMillan: we are weapons 🙂
Honour McMillan: we are trained from birth in wing to hand combat

So there you have it – right from the bird’s beak. *grin* A beautiful, dangerous, talented bird. A perfect description for Honour 🙂

Honour blogged that her avatar makes her smile. Makes me smile too. AND gave me blog material!! What a great friend!!!!

Sometimes You Need a Professional

We’ve all heard the admonishment: Kids, don’t try this yourselves at home. *grin* I ignore that ALL the time when I take pictures in SL. I really am not a good photographer. That’s okay with me – I don’t have to be a good photographer. It would be NICE of course, but usually all I really care about is showing you a glimpse of my life. And for that “okay” is sufficient. Until last week.

Honour gave me a gorgeous outfit last week. She’d been shopping at Bare Rose, saw the Black Salamander Lady outfit and says she thought of me. Apparently something about the red garters, or so she said….. Excuse me a moment while I tease Honour. For someone who claims to HATE shopping, Honour spends more time shopping in one week, than I spend in a month. *grin* It’s true. I swear it’s true. But Honour has great taste. She is also friends with some of the best fashionistas in SL. And so I’ve learned to trust Honour’s fashion sense. *grin* I know, Honour, I’m killing you here. LOL.

Of course when Honour dropped the folder on me, I had to wear the outfit IMMEDIATELY. It was sensational. I loved it. Honour was shopping for a skin so I went to keep her company. She actually wasn’t shopping. She was going to stare and either talk herself into or out of that skin. If you read her blog (as you should), you already know how that ended up. She bought that skin, a drow skin called Chromatic from [][]Trap[][]. The store is located on The Twilight sim. I couldn’t resist – I bought a skin also. Considering the last time I bought a skin was over a year ago, and I think I dithered for days, finally going to Calli for advice, buying a skin in less than 20 minutes is quite remarkable for me.

So I had this sensational outfit and a new breath-taking skin. Of course I went to take a picture to show you all. Except…. drow skins are dark. I couldn’t get the lighting correct. The pictures were okay. But this time, this look, “okay” was not okay. I am fortunate to be friends with one of the best photographers (if not the best) in SL – Callipygian Christensen. Calli was logged on. I IM’d her and asked if I could hire her to take my picture. In the interests of keeping this post to a manageable length, I won’t detail how LONG it took for the 2 of us to actually have time to be logged on at the same time to do a shoot. *grin*

The difference between a professional and me. I thought, okay, yeah, we’ll go downstairs where there’s no furniture, or down to the beach, take some shots. Oh no, no, NO. One gets posed in a proper LOCATION. I love Calli. She found a sim – we were at Rustica, a wonderful furniture store in a castle (Quality Medieval and Castle Furniture). She found a window and managed to walk/talk me into the right spot and then she took pictures. I took pictures too – of us doing the shoot. But Calli – she captured exactly what I wanted to show you. The incredible package: outfit and skin.

The photos in this post are by the incomparable Callipygian Christensen. My deep thanks to you, Calli, for capturing the essence of what I feel when I put on that outfit. *hugs* You are amazing.

The Discerning Eye

I really do not observe very well. There is nothing wrong with my vision (well, maybe that’s debatable) but basically I can see what’s there. I don’t observe, however. At least, I don’t observe in SL. Right from the beginning I decided that there was no point in knowing what people looked like, because they change all the time. I don’t, but I think I’m in a minority. i recognize meI focus on the text: avatar names, labels, local chat, IM. I almost never cam about. I tend to pull my camera to one general over-all view and then socialize. People are always asking me “do you see that?” or they all comment in local chat about someone’s appearance/arrival and I have not seen it. People always say to me “watch this” and I still struggle with my camera to find where the “this” is that I am supposed to watch. In a sense, this is very odd, since I think that I typically learn visually – by SEEING pictures or actions. When my husband and I learned to ballroom dance (and oh my, we are HOT, trust me) he would stand there with his teacher discussing in great deal WHAT he was to do. My teacher would grab me and lead me through my paces. I could watch in the mirrors, feel my body learn what it was to do, watch when my teacher demo’d with another teacher or student. Visual learning. But for some reason, I’m really bad at this in SL. LOL. Ask poor Honour, who has been trying for months to teach me to use my camera, to build, to OBSERVE. Still, my typical approach is really NOT visual.

I was in a fashion show the other day. We were all requested to be brunettes with short hair (we were modelling jewelry, need to display those earrings!). So I found some hair, modified it a bit (it was in my face and another lock stuck out too much) and there I was – brunette. Ahuva the brunetteI was chatting with a friend and said that NO ONE would recognize me, since people always seem to comment on my blonde hair and to find me by my hair. I amended that statement by saying Calli and Dale would recognize me. The two of them definitely OBSERVE. Calli saw a picture of me and recognized the skin I was wearing. I was totally blown away, as I’d not worn that skin in months in SL. But she was right. Dale is usually the first to notice if I’ve goofed and worn an entire folder, thereby blowing away my usual shape/features. *grin* Dale notices before *I* do. I just do NOT see. But I figure most people see my hair and nothing more.

pretty in pinkEither I am totally wrong and in the minority about how most people view SL avatars, or add my husband to the group with discernment. There I was, all brunette, on my pose ball for the show. My name was not showing in the particular view I had up. My husband walked over, looked at the screen. He said “Who’s that? Oh, it’s you.” I looked at him and said “how do you know it’s ME?” He said “I recognize you – that’s your face.” I was totally blown away. He recognizes my avatar’s FACE????? I’m not sure that *I* would recognize my face. Maybe, but probably not. Actually – he has also noticed when I’ve blown away my shape. So, either I’m totally out of things, or my husband KNOWS me.

What about you? What do YOU see? (LOL – I know – if I was running Emerald- I would at least know WHERE you were looking) Do you know me without my hair? Do you recognize YOURSELF in the viewer?

Getting Comfy

Oh, yeah, Opensim is starting to feel more like home. *grin* Major hugs and thanks to Natalya! And to Dz too!
Opensim boots1 open sim boots 2

Hair – Version 2

hair version 2
*grin* It’s getting better, no question about that. What do you think, RL friends? Is that my hair? I’m not sure why you can still see the edges of the prims. I have my expert adviser looking into it. Because I had that problem with version 1 and I thought I solved it. Also, it’s still perhaps a bit thin in spots. I want to rebuild the top from scratch. I had help with that – I want to do it ALL myself. *grin* Yes, I am being incredibly stubborn. But when I give this to anyone else – the only name on it should be MINE. I’ve had a request for white hair, so that it can be changed to any color. My expert needs to get back to me on that as well. But I’m quite pleased. This will do quite nicely in Opensim until version 3 is ready. I think I’d like to maybe take a break and start on boots.

SL is a Mirror of my Soul

There is a lively conversation going on at my company concerning avatar appearance. Much of it started with a coworker posting the following:

having an AV can be a positive, educational experience: I’ve heard people talk about how it can be a chance to ‘start all over again’. And it can be that: our AVs may be tougher, or more sensitive, or more masculine, or feminine, than our real-world selves. And our RL selves can learn from the experience.

And one thing I’ve noticed is that people demand the use of their real names during real business events. Doubly so if they’re a ‘mover & shaker’ with a Big Name and a Big Reputation. They’d also like for their AVs to look exactly like their RL selves, too — but The Name is the important part.

At approximately the same time as this thread appeared, I was listening to a Metanomics show.  Robert Bloomfield offers a Connecting the Dots segment where he comments on feedback.  I regret that I can’t seem to find the appropriate link for the segment that I heard.  But if my memory serves me correctly, he spoke about avatar appearance and “Are you really going out looking like THAT?”.  His point was that for business conducted in a virtual world, you need to LOOK like a RL business person. That opinion is supported by another coworker who posted that, according to a survey of business people, the majority of those polled wanted their “work” AVs to have both their RL name but also look like themselves.

Interesting. I have no problem with my avatar bearing my RL name for business meetings in a virtual world. I even agree that it is NECESSARY for a work avatar to bear the RL name. I am also sure that the first person had it right – the bigger the name, the greater the demand to have it displayed. Hey – that’s life. That person worked hard (usually) for that reputation. If they are inworld doing business, then it’s important to maintain that identity that gives them status and credibility. But I am not so sure about appearance.

I am quite satisfied, even pleased, with my RL appearance. But I don’t want to look like the physical me when I am in a virtual world. Virtual worlds allow me to portray myself as I see me from the inside. I don’t have to be constrained anymore by physics and gravity and reality and the fortunes of fate. I’ve talked about this before. Your avatar appearance can change your RL experience ( The Stanford Study ). There is no question that my avatar has changed my RL persona and that I have learned a great deal about who I really am.  I am making a definite statement about myself when I customize my avatar. It’s not just vanity. Or maybe it is. So what?   If it’s vanity – I’m STILL conveying something essential about myself. Yet another coworker posted what I think is a fascinating insight:

“I’m almost wondering if this need for reality in identity is actually more of a generational manifestation? “

That coworker goes on to say that the current generation of youth (I’m going to say that for me – I think it’s people 30 and younger) already have developed avatars for themselves and that they carry those representations of themselves through all the social media that they utilize. I agree with this whole-heartedly.

I know that most of you reading this blog are not in SL for business purposes.  But take a moment and think about this.  If you COULD have your avatar look like your physical self, would you?  Now imagine that in your job, your current RL job, you had to hold meetings and do business virtually.  Imagine meeting all your coworkers inworld.   Now what is your answer?

SL is not the mirror of my body.  SL is the mirror of my soul.

they-are-all-me

Appearances DO Matter

yep-thats-me-tooTwo of my favorite bloggers have touched upon one of my favorite topics: appearances in a virtual world. I blogged about this waaaaaay back in my truly early days, when I asked Is a Virtual World a Good Thing? (July 7, 2008) The true irony is that in THAT post I was whining about not wanting to fuss about details such as my hair, skin, etc. Well, well, well, how things have changed, no? By the way – this first picture…. that is me. Changed. I made that brown hair. 🙂 That’s the truth.

I was born into SL. early-daysThere is so much free content here that allows you to customize your avatar. Without much effort you can change your hair, your skin, your walk, your sit, your clothes, your shape, your gender, your fur, your wings, your tentacles…. I think you understand. Even more to the point – you have some very good choices for default avatars. As I watch newbies coming through the gateway, wearing MY original avatar, I am still impressed by what a relatively good avatar that is. Yes – I STILL like the hair. But I’ve been working in Opensim a LOT lately. I have become such an appearance snob that when I had to create an avatar in OS I refused to use my name. I vowed that Ahuva Heliosense had a reputation to maintain and she would NOT be found in OS until her boots, hair and AO were there with her. 🙂 Aren’t I totally ridiculous??? But I mean it – if you see what her poor sister Summer looks like – omg – what a real dweeb. And she walks like a complete and utter newb. summerBarefoot. I absolutely cannot stand how Summer looks (sorry, Hon, but you really are somewhat of an embarrassment). Because I can’t stand watching Summer, I really do not enjoy my time in Opensim as much as I could. The appearance detracts from the experience and I do NOT go there as often as I should/could. Let me mention again the Stanford Study (research done in 2006 by Nick Yee. ) and its conclusions about avatar appearance on the real-life person.

I am not unique. Although the techies with whom I associate don’t seem to be as perturbed by their appearances as I, most of the world are not techies. *grin* Honest – that’s the truth. Corporations who are trying to do business in virtual worlds just-2-weeks-agoneed to understand that appearances matter, realism matters. If the users are not enjoying the experience – it’s going to fail. The avatars need to look good, move well, and have textured, well-made content. As Honour would say – textures are the foundation for SL. If the content does not have good textures – no one is going to enjoy the view. And if the customers don’t like the view – THEY LEAVE.

There is a continuum of life-like appearance. Back in July I found Ariane Barnes and her post on the Uncanny Valley. Prad Prathivi is talking about the Uncanny Valley also. Prad mentions his own reaction to life-like avatars and how the reaction changes. Someone offered to take a RL picture of me and make my avatar look like me. THAT life-like I don’t want. But I have colleagues that DO want that. The continuum will be different for each of us. We need the ability to customize our avatars ourselves, easily, in order to make the virtual world a world that fits OUR needs.

Shenlei Flasheart is writing about Business-to-Consumer corporations (B2C) moving into virtual worlds. Fashion Research Institute has been contacted by corporations wishing to provide contact to their virtual world employees. sl-blog Unfortunately, most of the people driving the projects for these corporations have no idea of what is involved to provide good, realistic content. Apparently they do not budget for that and are stunned when someone gives them a realistic estimate of the time and effort involved (read: “cost”) to produce content that will satisfy their employees. If the employees think that they look like unattractive, stiff dweebs – the employees are NOT going to participate wholly and the project will FAIL. Several friends have pointed out the case study that LL has posted on the SL blogs. This case study shows how IBM “got it” about making the employee experience a good one. Which means that it was a SUCCESSFUL experience and IBM benefited. If they can “get it” – let’s hope other companies can as well. I sure hope someone is listening out there.

You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby

rhinestone-cowboyAlthough I am totally immersed in SL and am so at home here, I often feel like a newbie. I think many of my friends regard me as quite “young” still. To my great relief and happiness, my friends still mentor me and give me tips, hints, suggestions and clues for making my life in SL smoother and more fun. But compared to a REAL newbie – I am sooooo NOT a newbie anymore.

Shengri La is now an official SL Gateway (Fashion Research Institute). I often drop-in to help out, see who all is rezzing in. It is a mad house there. I had no idea how does-this-shirt-make-me-look-fatmany people rez in each MINUTE. Half the time I try to drop-in, I can’t get there because the sim is full. I’ve had to rez nearby and WALK in. LOL. But I do try to stop in at least once a week (and it really should be more often) and try to help newbies the way all the good folk helped me.

The first thing that strikes me each time is how grateful I am to have an AO. Remember back whenever in the fall when my friend mentioned I looked “stiff”? Okay, she wins. (Actually, she ALWAYS wins but that is a completely different story.) I LOVE my AO. Sure, there are 2 animations of which I’m not overly fond, but I’m more lazy than I am displeased so I’ve not removed them yet. But watching newbies walk queen-for-a-dayabout and stand – wow, stiff dweebs. I’m sorry – that’s just the truth. (And why I HATE working in opensim. Which is also another story. But there at least I am working a deal to get an AO, skin and hair. LOL).

The second thing that I notice is the newbies’ total lack of comprehension. They don’t know where they are, that they are all new, why they are there, or what they should be doing. Ah yes, I remember that well. Most of you reading this probably joined me some time along my adventures, as I met you in SL. But there are a few readers (/me waves hi to M and B, who have been reading since day 1 – Hi guys!!!) casual-attirewho remember how I got started here. I did my research BEFORE I signed up. Not only did I read up on SL and try to learn about it, I even contacted people who were already in-world, lining up my support team, as it were. Okay, not everyone has that luxury. But really – if you don’t know what SL is, why did you sign up?????? Why are you here??? YOU must have had SOME reason. Of course they did…. the streets of SL are paved with sex and money. /me does search on the map to find that sim.

by-george-shes-got-itWell, I truly must be the most repulsive or most unapproachable avatar in all of SL. Despite hanging around with the newbs, and despite hearing such conversations around me, do you realize that STILL not one person has propositioned me yet????? /me shakes head in bafflement. I don’t WANT them to proposition me, really, but the fact that everyone else seems to be hit on could make me wonder what’s wrong with me. (Good thing the auction is still fresh in my memory.) My first day at the hatching farm (gateway *grin*) when I had to walk in, I encountered two newbies who had strayed from the shelter. I met the woman first and was trying to guide her back to the stores and welcome area. Then we encountered the male. Immediately the male was propositioning the female, and they were trying to figure out HOW to do IT. In local chat of course. I said to them both that it was a totally inappropriate conversation and that if they were interested in performing that action at this time, I was not interested in waiting about to help them. The woman was quite surprised and asked me WHY it was inappropriate. Sheesh. Didn’t your mother teach you ANYTHING???? /me shuts mouth before more judgmental remarks slip out. I headed into the Gateway, leaving them to try to figure out how it’s done in SL.

The Gateway is hilarious, as wellcome-here-often-little-girl as maddening. You can’t move without bumping into someone else, because there are so many people. And they bump into you. And everyone is talking in local chat and they haven’t learned any SL conventions yet. *grin* I wait til I hear a specific question, or I see someone standing by themselves. Then I cut them from the herd and try to talk to them. Often someone else joins in. I’m always pleasantly surprised by how fast some people catch on to IM’ing, moving, flying, inventory. I was so completely clueless for days. I know now that a great deal of my problems were due to the terrible hardware issues I was having. Once I resolved that, SL began rezzing quickly and properly and everything made much more sense. So often I wonder if there is a correlation between the people who “get it” quickly and their computer hardware.

gee-she-looks-very-familiarI love watching as they all get items in their inventory. Soooo many nice things for free in the Gateway, but you MUST be a newbie to get them. Sigh. The vending machines tell me that I am too old. Some of the outfits are quite interesting. And some of the people – gee, they look very very familiar somehow. 🙂


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