Re: [-empyre-] Lambda Moo

Hi All,
This reply is a bit long, but please persist :)

Ana and others are totally right about the deficiencies of Second Life. But nobody thinks its the final stage of virtual universes, least of Linden Labs (LL), who recognise they have a small window when they're the only act in town. This cycle is now sufficiently well known within the tech economy, and LL are not stupid. The push for interoperable nodes in a '3D internet', first started by Mark Pesce et al in 94, is gaining serious traction and part of LL's strategy in open-sourcing the client, and soon the server, is to ensure that SL is able to evolve and stay relevant in this networked 3D 'metaverse'. But it is baby steps, and these steps are largely determined by mind-share, which unfortunately nearly always equates with market-share.

Technically SL is extremely limited and frustrating, but it is the only realtime 3D MUVE with inworld collaborative tools that works right now. There is some extremely interesting work being done by a range of artists within this environment, some of whom are on this list. They are working at the very limits of SL's capability and, in the time-honoured way, their work will influence the technical development of the environment.

One of the chief technical achievements of SL is worth pointing out; it regularly achieves concurrent logins of over 25,000 people, in the same persistent environment. That has never happened before, ever, anywhere. SL is still the only environment on the planet that can do that right now.

The assertion that EQ or WoW are better than SL is misleading - they are very different conceptually and technically. Equally misleading is the concept that SL is simply a MOO with pictures, but it raises fascinating questions that I'm hoping Patrick will weigh in on.

It speaks also to Helen's rightly bewildered attitude to the "realism to a certain point" encountered in SL. All 3D MUVEs (including EQ & WoW) display this trait. This points to what I consider to be the core problem with the concepts of both an avatar and the representation of physical space: there are no endemic physical characteristics of 3D virtual space, and it is not natively a simulation of physical space, nor does it have to be perceived from a single point. Any physical characteristics must be consciously programmed in and while it is possible, to a point, to display certain superficial similarities to physical space, almost immediately we encounter Borges' map conundrum.

The avatar concept is the one I find the most troubling, and it also grows from the 3d-space-as-physical-simulation misassumption. There is no need to concentrate presence into one cohesive point (an avatar). Regularly, a user will zoom their 'camera' (another misleading but perhaps more helpful concept) off away from their avatar. At that point, going with the logic of the avatar, the avatar is no longer a representation of that user, since the logic of the avatar is that the user is "at" the same point from which they are perceiving visual and audio information. With the introduction of voice chat in SL, there is finally a recognition that your "eyes" may not be at the same coordinates as your "body", so there is an editable preference to decide whether you hear the audio from your avatar's ears or from where your camera is. This is the first step in the dissolution of the unworkable concept of the single avatar, because if you are hearing in a different point from where you are seeing, your presence is no longer confined to a single point.

Taking this idea further, why confine your presence only to the points from which you perceive? This goes back to a concept I attempted to explore in Scorched Happiness, taking cues from Julia Kristeva and the immigrant experience (I am an immigrant myself). Indeed, why confine it to realtime at all? Why can't presence (ie, an avatar) be distributed over time, location, data and media? It does refer to the multiplicity of identities that Kristeva, Kali Tal, Lisa Nakamura and others discuss, but I'm talking more of presence than identity.

Is Beethoven's music his avatar? All the multifarious versions and re- interpretations, are they different avatars of Beethoven? When we hear it we think "that is Beethoven". Or Mark Rothko's paintings, and all the prints of them, are they all Rothko's avatars? Julia Kristeva's books and her ideas, are they her avatars? Is the world wide web an avatar of Tim Berners-Lee? These avatars arguably don't display realtime agency, but nor does your camera in SL. Realtime agency is a separate concept from that of presence I believe, and Luciano Floridi has done some serious thinking about this.

This is not a new concept, and perhaps it is just a vocabulary issue.

Artists such as Annabeth and Gazira are taking a different approach, a post-convergent approach that doesn't treat the environment as a simulation of physical space and looks to concepts of presence that are disributed across location, time and data.

I am very interested to hear what Annabeth, Patrick and others think about this.


On 10/08/2007, at 11:08 PM, Ana Valdés wrote:

I agree with you regarding the people seeing SL as a "new thing". It
feels for me a loss of historic approach, I was in Lambda too for a
short period and followed Julian Dibbells MOO experiences very close.
(By the way I recommend his book "My tiny life" , for everyone wanting
to know how the social interaction worked in the time where text
Before SL it was the Palace and Active Worlds, all pixeled universes
and avatars. SL is a clever engineered universe but far too technical
restricted and definitely not the final stage of virtual universes.
I understand the fascination of people experiencing the thrills of
virtual audiences but still wonder why are theorics spending so much
time and effort in a really poor achievement?
Everquest or World of Warcraft are definitely better instrumented than SL.
The "linear" geography of SL lacks layers and complexity.
And the concerts showing avatars jumping are a boring package for
audio experiments and virtual composers worth a better environment.
For me SL is a stage, I wish Third Life will going to be better than
Second Life.


On 8/10/07, blakkbyrd <> wrote:
dear list

back in the early nineties I spent a year in Lambda Moo, that was
before chat rooms, before browsers, when participants had to use
unix, and everything was command lines and text.

There was a lot of discussion about lambda's future and the
inevitable addition of images.  It has come to pass and with it has
come a dumbing down of the participants as the interface becomes
easier to use.

In Lamda, to build, you had to use an object orientated programming

What I'm seeing now is a new generation of theorists trying to re-
invent the wheel.  In forming a theory of second life, surely one has
to at least acknowledge Lambda's role and the considerable amount of
papers it inspired?

I havent done much in SL, its  too much like "been there, done that"
for me, but I have complied a collection of posts on SL in connection
with my own research.


and there are videos here


empyre forum


Skarpnäcks Allé 45 ll tr 12833 Skarpnäck Sweden tel +468-943288 mobil 4670-3213370

"When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been and there you will always long to return. — Leonardo da Vinci _______________________________________________ empyre forum

This archive was generated by a fusion of Pipermail 0.09 (Mailman edition) and MHonArc 2.6.8.