Re: [-empyre-] Lambda Moo vs graphical spaces

I think arguments about which virtual worlds are ‘better’ or ‘worse’ is a bit of a waste of energy and misses the point. It is clear that different virtual spaces have very different affordances and constraints and I think that is a more productive discussion and way of analysing different virtual spaces. What can we do in these different spaces? What are their unique affordances? And constraints?

In many ways the text-based space of LambdaMoo provided a greater level of freedom than virtual worlds like Second Life—in LambdaMoo your visual identity and your actions were only limited by your imagination (and your powers of textual description!) In SL, avatars and their actions are now represented visually, a powerful new affordance but one which also has its own constraints as we are now limited by what it is possible for us to visually represent within the technical constraints of the SL environment.

The distinctive characteristics and aesthetics of different virtual spaces are defined as much by their constraints as their affordances and for me the most interesting artists are those that are exploring these space-specific aesthetics.

One of my favourite online performances was Desktop Theater’s (Adriene Jenik and Lisa Brenneis) virtual version of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot in The Palace ( way back in 1997. The performance exploited the aesthetic and technical constraints of The Palace environment. The main characters were played by 2D smiley faces (the default avatars for guests in The Palace) and the simplistic smiley face avatars with their limited range of colours and expressions underlined the emotional emptiness and inarticulateness of the characters they represented. The lag between responses as performers typed in their lines of dialogue also echoed the play’s theme of waiting and created moments of poetic pathos and quirky humour. A wonderful work – documentaion as availaber at:

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


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