RE: [-empyre-] Lambda Moo

Thankyou for your wonderfully cogent post Adam. 

It seems that there are some posters to this list that wish to continue
believing that everyone involved in SL is naive, oblivious to its history,
unaware of its technical constraints, incapable of producing art of any
consequence and a corporate dog. 

But there are also many on this list that would also like hear about the
good that is being done in SL. I hope the opportunity Melinda has
facilitated by creating this special discussion is not lost amongst the
anti-SL hype in reaction to the pro-SL hype.

-----Original Message-----
[] On Behalf Of Adam Nash
Sent: Saturday, 11 August 2007 10:06
To: soft_skinned_space
Subject: 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  

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
> ruled.
> 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.
> Ana
> 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
>> language.
>> 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.
>> see
>> and there are videos here
>> regards
>> blakkbyrd
>> _______________________________________________
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