[LINK] Reqiuem Pace Second Life

Roger Clarke Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Thu Oct 9 13:22:36 EST 2008

[I can't see this sign-off anywhere on the net, and it deserves a 
life, even if its subject-matter is suffering a terminal condition]

Days of Our Second Lives
Kublai Karu
The Canberra Times Panorama Magazine
4 October 2008

The road is long, with many a grinding turn.  And the heart, the 
heart, dear readers is heavy.  This weary adventurer, in search of 
his Kurtz, has along the way been tempted by the strange fruits of 
this odd forest known as Second Life but now the ambition has been 
replaced with emptiness.  One too many conversations with knee-high 
demons in sheep's clothing and one too many interviews with vampiric 
sex workers looking to experiment and exploit has brought me here - 
to a psychological impasse.  I have tried to walk alone.  This will 
be my last column before I detach from The Canberra Times mothership 
and float aimlessly into the animated abyss.  Ground control to 
Kublai Karu, and all that.  Sigh.

Why?  Because what should be a cornucopia is fast becoming a 
wasteland.  An intermittently flickering neon light.  Kiss without 
make-up.  Despite its infinite capacity for surprise, predictability 
reigns supreme in Second Life, a virtual world that now serves as an 
indictment to our collective lack of imagination.  In the battle 
between brains and sleaze, sleaze won.  And that's because it's 
easier to simply replicate vice or adjust it slightly than to forge 
new fields of human endeavour.  There are astounding things to be 
seen here - experimental cities, meticulously crafted landscapes and 
rocket museums - but barely a soul can be found in these places. 
Many companies looking to cash in on Second Life have since moved 
out, leaving behind barren commercial plots that resemble small-town 
ovals the day after the show left town.  Only fairy floss and the 
contents of weak stomachs remain.  Even those with the singular 
motivation to win friends and influence avatars - such as Barack 
Obama and John McCain - are now giving the meta-verse a wide berth. 
Why?  Because there's no-one around any more to befriend or influence 
and those who remain are too busy indulging in the pleasures of pixel 
flesh to give two hoots about the political process.  Not only this, 
Second Life is now a user-unfriendly experience - the damn thing 
simply keeps dropping out all of the time.  This can be particularly 
frustrating while trying to conduct an interview and I'm sure it is 
equally crushing to those who have swiped their credit cards at one 
of many brothels only to have a connection failure during the 
courting ceremony.

I now take solace in the anonymity of the aimless drifter. 
Overstimulated and far from satisfied, I will continue to teleport 
through this blank galaxy like Mad Max with a time machine.  Major 
Tom without military experience and/or a drug habit.  Adieu.

Kublai Karu is the avatar of The Canberra Times Online editor Ben Davey.

Roger Clarke                  http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/

Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd      78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
                    Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au                http://www.xamax.com.au/

Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng  Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program      University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre      Uni of NSW

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