Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Visualizing Theorem at UTSA

Visualizing Theorem
Exhibit Opening

Saturday 4.2.2011

A net-wide and interdisciplinary collaborative show is opening at University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). The installations are based on tracks from real life album ‘Theorem’ produced by Ulf Skogsbergh, which is itself the result of online collaboration between ten musicians from the social networking website Indaba Music.

Curated by Misprint Thursday [who has done an amazing HUD], this exhibit features sixteen installations; each of the contributing artists selected a track from the album ‘Theorem’ to work from as their inspiration. Visitors to the exhibit can view immersive art pieces; play tracks from ‘Theorem’ and listen to dream-like soundscapes set at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) sim.

Participating Artists:

AM Radio, Betty Tureaud, Binary Quandry, Blue Tsuki, Dekka Raymaker, Desdemona Enfield, Douglas Story, Formatting Heliosense, March Macbain, Misprint Thursday, Oberon Onmura, Penumbra Carter, Pinkpink Sorbet, pixel Reanimator, Scarp Godenot, Sledge Roffo and Werner Kurosawa.

My own Prime Radiant is there.

Additional Performance Schedule:

Sunday 3rd April
12:00 Midnight SLT:
pixel Reanimator performance

Sunday 10th April
11:00am SLT
pixel Reanimator performance

Sunday April 17
4:00am SLT
pixel Reanimator performance

Update: VT made the Second Life Destinations Guide, featuring a shot of Prime Radiant in the notice :)

Misprint has published the Show Catalogue here with a great foreword by L1Aura Loire.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Interview with the Hamster

A Work of Dark and Gothic Fictionalism
A Tale of Trolls

It was a dark and stormy night as I sat alone in one of the decaying mansions of the Garden District, pen in hand, while the wind pummeled the rotting timbers and moaned down the chimney, scattering ominous shadows higgeldy-piggeldy, hither and yon.

I had used my contacts in the FIC, the FOC and the FOC2 to put the text out on the digital streets of the Metaverse, and on this eerie night suddenly there came a tapping, as of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door. I leapt up, ignoring the trembling of my hands and opened the door...

No one was there. Puzzled, I began to close the door when a plaintive and ill-tempered squeak caused me to look down. My hopes were realized; there, dripping on my porch, was the dimunitive figure of the notorious and controversial Hamster Oh, around whom much furor has recently fulminated.

Stumping into my study, the grumbling Mr. Oh threw himself into my own comfortable chair before the fire, picked up my half-finished snifter of Remy Martin Louis XIII which had served as the bait and thus began this interview.

HO: I hear you want to talk to me.

MS: I thought you might like to tell your side of the story.

HO: What story?

MS: The story everyone's talking about.

HO: There isn't any story! The story is, I do journalism! I report about things which are cool, because I report about them! When I report them, they are cool, and people who disagree with that are all part of a vast conspiracy...

MS: A conspiracy? [disingenuous eyeblinkery]

HO: Yes!!! For years I thought Professor Nova was off her rocker, with the FIC and the Communist-Hippie-Techno rants and all that shouting, but now I know it's all true! There is a core; nay, a large core, more like a huge core with just a little skin wrapped around it actually; almost a whole apple if you will, of intransigent and filthy Second Lifers who are determined to destroy a free press; who refuse to recognize wisdom, to move on; I mean, get with the program and realize SL is dead, dead, dead; hung by the neck. And this isn't An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge; no one's going to wake up in what feels like 5 years and realize it was only the single minute before their neck snapped!

MS: But "SL is dead" seems to be in direct contradiction to your pronouncements at ETech in 2008 [snaps on You Tube video "Why Second Life Won't Go Away"] -

"... a lot of the hype and backlash misses the picture... mirrored flourishing... bebop reality... 3D virtual jazz... impression society... not a capitalist society... the gold standard; talent and creativity... sustained interactivity... that's how people know whether you are serious or not about being part of the world."

HO: Yes, I said that then! I mean, why deny it, it's on You Tube. I was pushing my book! Everybody does it. Plus I was the embedded reporter for Second Life, like being with the Army over in Iraqistan; it was great.

MS: And that was also before you left SL to hang around in Blue M'arse, where you were also the inbedded reporter?

HO: Yes. I was deep in BM, which was the future, and from that future I could look into my past and say hey, I was in Second Life; I wrote a book about it. I even wore an ice-cream suit like Tom Wolfe. Go look at my Harper Collins Speaker's Bureau page. I write for everybody! I'm a logical empiricist, scientific triumphalist mofo.

MS: So if Blue M'arse was the future, what happened?

HO: [glares] What happened was that ungrateful wretches of Second Life refused to believe me when I said SL was dead and that BM was the future. I kept on and on about how great BM was, especially for retailers, I mean it would be eventually, when there was people there, and stuff to buy. But they didn't come.

All the reasons that they gave were just lies; I mean, just excuses. I am sure this was orchestrated by the FOC, the Fetid Outer Core. Those little [unprintable] convinced everyone that BM was a turd and it wouldn't float long. It was a complete smear job! Despite my superior arguments, the FOC brainwashed people into believing that they were actually having fun in Second Life, swarming amidst the decaying ruins, eating rats and playing zombie-tag. It was sick.

MS: But Blue M'arse didn't live long.

HO: That's directly because of the FOCing Residents! They are horrid people. Prof. Nova was right; they exist at all levels of Second Life. Oh, perhaps they don't meet in hidden, smoke-filled rooms, but they are a conspiracy nonetheless! The classic definition of a conspiracy is a bunch of people who all agree. These... people... you can read their blogs. They all have the same opinion.

But Blue M'arse isn't dead! That's one of the lies those liars are lying about. It's part of their propaganda. BM is now an iPhone© app-thingie. I mean, that's the wave of the future; experiencing a complex and graphically-intense 3D world on a bitty 3-inch screen with stopped-down graphics is definitely cutting-edge. Plus, it will definitely push the bandwidth meter, and you know that means big money in the future. Imagine monetizing IMs and Group Notices! It's no wonder top-notch developers are begging to work in that environment.

MS: Ummm... yeah, ok. So you came back to Second Life.

HO: No! Let's get one thing straight! I didn't come back to Second Life! Second Life is dead, honey! I am out exploring the unexplored frontiers of virtual business and profiteering! I am on the cutting edge, man; I'm bleeding! The things I am seeing... I've seen attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion... anyway, there's tons of spacebux to be made in these emerging virtual worlds. If they don't all collapse that is.

I didn't come back to SL. I started writing about it again, because I needed stuff to write about on my blog.

MS: But if Second Life was dead, why did you start to write about it again?

HO: I didn't notice it was dead until I got back. But no one would talk to me. They said it was because I hadn't been inworld much, being in Blue M'arse. So I was stuck with writing fashion tips instead of exposes on the Emerald breast-jiggling scandal.

It was then I realized Second Life was dead, because I hadn't been writing about it. I looked around and I thought, my virtual heavens, this place is dead! I got no Invitations. I got no Notices. No one IMed me. No one was paying me rentals. It was then I began to suspect the existence of the FOC.

MS: Tell me about the FOC.

HO: They started to reveal themselves openly when I began cheerleading Viewer 2, which had a bunch of neat features to play with, like Display Names and the Sidebar just like Windows Vista©. Plus it was getting almost Spacebook-like, and everyone knows Spacebook makes buttwads of cash, and the smart money will always bet on buttwads of cash; it's a given.

So these intransigent users, these stubborn donkeys, of which there are far more than I had previously realized... they started to mock the viewer; they kept on whining and complaining about things they said were crucial, like reliable sim crossings and stable asset servers and stupid things like that. Stability and so on. I mean, this stuff was so 2007, man, it was so old. You can't stand still on the slippery slope of the cutting edge by thinking of old stuff. You have to move on. These people just aren't with it. They're hanging on, like barnacles or old people in an iron lung. You have to pull the plug sometime.

MS: So there was the Viewer Spe... [HO narrows eyes] I mean, Viewer 2 controversy [sweat drop]. What about the transparency thing? You had said in your We Make Money Not Art interview in 2006,

"The unique advantage to reporting from virtual worlds, however, is a high degree of anonymity, with a citizenry made up of people from around the world, and a roleplaying aspect that enables us to see essential or archetypal conflicts involving themes of, for example, identity, economic resources and sociopolitical conflict, which play out in a purer form."

... but as recently as last November you were saying:

“There’s no example of a virtual world for adults who are totally anonymous avatars substantially growing on a mass market level.”

... and have been championing the linking up of databases and connecting all online presence with real-life accountability...

HO: It's the future, and I write about the future, not the past! We have to think about the future here. People don't pay you to write about the past. Well, they pay history teachers and stuff to do that, but not much. In the future, some people stand to make a huge amount of money, billions of dollars on these things, these virtual worlds or whatever. This is serious; these are high stakes! I don't have time to write about breedable monkeys anymore.

Second Life is here now, and by definition now is not the future. What's happening now is tomorrow's past, and the past is dead. You can't make money in the past. Try selling horses to Alexander the Great; you won't get anywhere. It's time these virtual idiots woke up and smelled the digital Starbucks - whatever they're doing now doesn't matter, because it's the past. Or it soon will be, if I have anything to say about it.

The future is all about marketing. It's about datacrunching; about projected income streams, about the cloud. It's about Web 3P0 and micropayments and accountability. It's about who shot first, Han or Greedo? It's about taxes. Obviously the Lab is on the way out; they didn't get the huge influx of Spacebookers that they wanted in their economic window with the introduction of Viewer 2, even with all the snappy features. They didn't hustle.

Business is like a shark - it has to keep moving or die. And it has to savagely tear apart and eat anything slower or with less teeth than itself. That's just the nature of business.

MS: So why are people upset?

HO: It's because of those goddam FOCers! First, they started contradicting me when I tried to write nice things about the Boys again, because I missed getting invites to all the cool parties where I could hang out with my Lab posse, so after Blue M'arse crumbled beneath my feet, which I admit I didn't see coming despite all those FOCers pointing out inconvenient things in their blogs about it, I thought I'd write some nice posts and try to get in good with the Boys again and get some freebies.

But the FOCers spoiled that. They were mocking Viewer 2 en masse, which made me feel bad for the Boys. I tried to set the story straight; I pointed out that these people, these intransigent stick-in-the-muds, were ungratefully overlooking all the nice shiny things the Lab had turned out for them; all that work, those man-hours, wasted, man! It was shocking. Then these trolls, these losers, they had the unmitigated gall to contradict me!

That's when I started to notice this bunch of FOCers and how much influence they had over the blogosphere. They had no flag; they had no overt means of identifying themselves. They were like terrorists, wormed through the entire structure of the metaverse.

MS: So, these FOCers... they are responsible for the huge outpouring of Anti-Hamsterism that has swept the blogging community in recent weeks?

HO: Sure they are! When I stated that SL was dead, and that this bunch of creeping, slithering FOCers, who have the nerve to call themselves 'Residents' were directly responsible for the firing and hanging of many Lindens, I was only giving my opinion, backed by countless hours of promoting myself, that what I said was the truth.

MS: What about your own analysis of June, 2010 about the huge layoff of Lindens? How could the FOCers be responsible for that if that was before the introduction of Viewer P.. 2?

HO: That is the frightening thing. These FOCers can evidently move back and forth in time and completely damage my credibility by recalling my own pronouncements! Like when I fearlessly challenged Mark Kingdon on the Openspaces controversy, even though I was inbedded with the Lab at the time; still, I showed them! Press credentials, stickin' it to The Man, yahoo! It was like like being Deep Throat and Woodward and Bernstein all at once. It was heady. I'd like to see Dennis Hopper play me in that part of the movie.

When I said "How To Save Second Life In 7 Easy Steps" last year, pointing out:

"Linden’s profitability has been eroded by company efforts to turn SL into a real world business platform and improve the complicated user interface"

... that was before I realized that a bunch of people were expressing this opinion and had been blogging about it while I was playing with mesh in Blue M'arse, so it was old. No one would talk to me anymore. They said it was because I was in BM too much and not SL, but that was only a cover story. I know now that even then those FOCers were gaining strength. They kept on pointing out things like my take on content theft and things like that; really embarrassing things. They kept bringing up the past. It was a concerted campaign.

MS: So you reprimanded them.

HO: Yes, I reprimanded them! They stopped believing in me! I began to realize that SL was dead, populated by zombies who were too hypnotically cozened to realize that asking for basic improvements and stability in the platform was a pipe dream, some namby-pamby techno-hippie commie dreamland. That is when I found the writings of Professor Nova, which changed my life.

The Professor has bravely soldiered on for years, exposing the evil and Machiavellian lengths to which this conspiracy of naysayers, these nattering nabobs of negativism, those hopeless, hysterical hypochondriacs of history, these vicars of vacillation, these pusillanimous pussyfooters will go to in order to discredit the voices of Reason, despite dire and foul attacks on her writings and even, should she be believed, to sap and impurify all of her precious bodily fluids. Of course, people say that the Professor is crazy, so I had to invent a new term, the Fetid Outer Core, for these intransigents...

I began trying to be reasonable with this group; I tried calmly explaining how their world, which they perceived to be up-and-running, was dead; as dead as Linux is because of Ubuntu. I tried to explain to them the importance of being tracked everywhere they go in cyberspace in order to sell their marketing data, because everyone knows this is the future, so you'd better get used to it and hop on the bandwagon.

Then, to be honest, I got fed up and called them all a bunch of losers. I mean, it's true; they were still in Second Life and I wasn't, not really. I popped in now and then when I needed stuff to write on my blog, because I couldn't write about BM anymore, obviously. So I spoke out about the zombie menace I perceived as emerging from this dead world.

MS: And that is when this backlash happened?

HO: Yes! It was an organized campaign. First one blogger contradicted me, then a huge landslide, a wave, it just smashed into me. I was just perplexed. These people in a dead world, they should respect the dead and be quiet. But no, they have no manners nor morals, as Professor Nova sadly found out. They will stop at nothing.

They claim to offer facts, babbling about stability and morons with shiny candy and profess to speak about lofty matters like how to run a business, when everyone knows they are a bunch of furry vampire clotheshorses that just mainly have cybersex all the time and are basically children, evil children, like those kids in Lord of the Flies.

Mostly it is only a Fetid Inner Corps, a corps from a corpse you might say; hey, I just copyrighted that so don't use it as your own... these FOCers are only a small, a tiny minority; the ones with blogs; the ones who pretend to care deeply about their world but at the same time openly knock it down.

One of them, one of their leaders, "The Gardener," had the temerity to attack me openly! First she disagreed in public on my own blog, which was just plain rude and very unprofessional, because in a business situation you are supposed to keep disagreements like that in private and not air your dirty laundry all over the boardroom, and then to top it off, when I gently tried to enlighten her and straighten her out as to why her own opinion was just that, an opinion, and hardly counted against my many years of professional journalism and savvy-insider a priori knowledge... this little weed-puller started a campaign on Twitter called #crushtheinfidelhamster! I mean, that's terrorism right there! That is a terrible thing to do to someone; cut off their Twitter followers. It's nasty. It's like something Al Qaeda would do.

MS: So the real problem, from your point of view, is that no one listens to you anymore?

HO: Yes! No! That isn't it at all! The real problem is these FOCers! They are polluting innocent minds! Minds that should be playing Cowville! Minds that should be reporting their whereabouts and not skulking about in a virtual world! Minds that should have their most sensitive personal data available to companies who wouldn't care less if their security was breached, in order to sell them things and turn the Big Wheel which is Commerce and will Save Virtual Worlds!

I tried; I really tried. I mean, I wrote a book about it. I was as blind as anyone. At first I loved Second Life. It's like Charlie the Unicorn; first you think it's all cute and good to eat, like Candy Mountain, but then you realize it was all a fantasy and that you're no Anshe Chung and they took your frickin' kidney.

Still, everything would have been fine, fine, if people would have just listened to me and gone to Blue M'arse or Opensim. Maybe the Boys, recognizing my superior intelligence and business savvy as well as my cult of personal magnetism, would have wooed me back, and I could have changed my mind and brought all those consumers back to SL like the Pied Piper leading the little children of Hamelin back home. That would have been triumphant, eh?

Instead, they took offense at a cool and purely professional analysis of their red-handed guilt in the June 2010 shooting of 30% of the Lindens and their warmongering and hating on Viewer 2. They began an active campaign complaining about things that had been complained about long before. They started to stalk my blog. They stalked me in Twitter; they stalked me all over the Internet. They started to make up facts and refuted me with their insouciant clever words... I understand they have a Pixie as a speechwriter now, and a Wizard... those FOCers... goddamn FOCERS!!!

[sounds of smashing glass]

I quietly and unobtrusively gathered my few meager things and softly but hastily hastened towards the sagging door of the mansion, while the sounds of smashing and a furious chittering, interspersed with a sharp clicking of teeth, faded at my back. I carefully wrapped the hairs which I had gathered from the Hamster in a clean silk square thrice-blessed by the Goddess Netrice to give to my superiors in the Vatican Assassin Warlocks. The FOCers would be pleased too.

"Foc2, Hamster!" I whispered into the moon-drenched night.


The preceeding was a work of fiction, pretending to be a fictional interviewer fictionally interviewing a ficticious character. All alleged references to any living persons are purely fictitious, allegedly. For entertainment value only. Offer void where prohibited, inhibited or contraindicated by law. We Await Silent Tristero's Empire.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Future Avatars - You Tube Jaunt

We're all familiar with Roombas and Sony's cute lil Aibo - but this new generation of robots is really wild:

The Geminoid DK

Hmmm. Looks like your typical suburban SO.

Dr. Evil

I think the People for Ethical Treatment of Androids might have something to say about this. Best comments ever.


These 'scientists' are waaayyyy too weird! "I do not like it when you touch my breasts" indeed!


I think I saw this one in that Arnold Schwarzenegger movie about Mars.

Little Sister

She has on an HK sweatshirt; that's good enough for me. Great voice for cosplay!

Jonathan Nonlivingston Seagull

For the nonhumanforms, of course.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

In Which I Try To Help Someone

Last night, after several days of vomiting asset servers and assorted technological spastic-colon problems in SL, I saw a panicked message in a Group tab:

Username: "Help! I have been trying to save a Notecard for an hour and it won't save!"

After going through numerous troubleshooting strategies with several other Users like "did you try to include no-perm LMs or pictures; did you try cut and pasting from outside SL, did you try deleting that notecard and making another, etc" and having no success, I said:

Miso Susanowa: "Here, let me Google that for you (LMGTFY)"

GOOGLE SEARCH FIELD: "error messages" +"second life"

RESULTS: 500,000

Of course, I instantly disregarded the first results, as they included things like:

second life error furry sex viagra penis enlargement [something in Russian] [something in Chinese]

... and went straight for the authoritative Wikipedia entry:

Error Messages In Second Life

"You may experience error messages while using Second Life. This is not unusual. It means that for whatever reason, Borkage Linden, aka The Swedish Linden, has temporarily taken over SL. The error messages may vary, but all indicate that Borkage Linden is in control for the duration.

If you receive one of these error messages, and attempts to fix or address this problem by other residents fail and they explain that it is due to Borkage, you have one option:

To run around and around in circles shouting, 'BORKBORKBORKBORK!" until you tire or until it makes you laugh, whichever. Go read a book or take a bubble bath."

Needless to say, this sage advice was resisted by Username, who insisted that there must be a logical explanation or that they, and we, must just be too stupid to understand how to save a simple text-only notecard. I tried to explain that Teh Boyz had borrowed this "you have teh dumb" strategy from Microsoft, who have used it quite successfully to explain their own Borkage of many years, but alas; this Username was unsatisfied.

I then attempted to use the LL strategy of "ooo shiny!" and point out all the neat features of Viewer 2.Hell, like Display Names and the Sidebar and the Fun parts and how they were basically ungrateful and mean for complaining about something so petty and meaningless when they had the fruits of technological wonderment and "Yowsa!©" at their very fingertips.

I finally ended up suggesting that they join the group "SLhaterz" and start following the SLogs of Hamster, Proktologist and Waggle (and now Mr Crap Mariner, unmasked as part of the FOC in this shocking expose by Botgirl) for tips on the Party Line and How I Learned To Stop Worrying Because SL Is Dead And I Helped.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Prime Radiant & Theatre of War

Prime Radiant at Visualizing Theorem, UTSA

After some people said they missed the announcement of the opening of Kelly Yap's DayGlo show and my Big Winter installation, I thought I'd show off two of my recent pieces and give a bit of info on them:

Prime Radiant - Second Life & InWorldz

PR began as a piece for the 'Visualizing Theorem' show being curated by Misprint Thursday at the University of Texas at San Antonio [UTSA] Roadrunner spaces [opening April 2].

The show is interesting in that Misprint has arranged to have 15 musicians, working on collaborative internet sessions of music inspired by the sciences [site URL: Theorem] to have Second Life artists create pieces to compliment or work with the musical selections.

Misprint is working on the press release(s) for the show; it will feature some RL/SL interactive performances as well as the artwork/music collaborations. Stay tuned.


Phases is the title of the music I was interested in working with in "Prime Radiant (Phases)" and I decided that rather than use music as I usually do, I would try to work with the phasings of light and color theory to compliment the music. I did put a few sounds into the piece because the stream on the parcel is not looping; it only plays through once. When viewing the Radiant, you should listen to the local stream at least once.

CMYK is a subtractive color model used in printing using cyan, magenta, yellow and black [K] inks against a white background. RGB is an additive color model using red, green and blue colored light and is newer than the CMYK model, made for display on electronic devices and surfaces.

The beauty of light on a computer screen is one of the things that drew me to them and I like to play with it; Radiant is an extension of the playing around with the values of chroma and luminance I was doing with the piece I had up at Split Screen and UWA in December, Chroma. It was difficult to get the right shades of cyan, magenta and yellow for the circles, and of course it is only perfect on my computer screen, with my color mask, calibration and etc.

I tried to compose Prime Radiant with the four Windlight time presets [ 4 movements or stages, echoing the musical composition]. I was also very happy to switch for a beach parcel, as the Radiant performs best against a sky background and in the wash of prim waves and surf.

The glow and transparency of the different elements help to highlight movement in the waves and clouds, making the piece bridge sea to sky at Sunrise and Sunset; at Midday the central emitter will be washed in and out of view by the compound glows playing with the reflecting ripples of the surf and the luminosity of the Linden sky cover.

At Midnight, Radiant displays a color wheel, mixing shades of light using both models (although actually it is a visual trick; of course everything on the screen is in an rgb format) and producing a light show; a custom particle in the center emitter that makes it look wreathed in milky smoke. There are "spectral dolphins" in the surf which circle the Radiant, created by submerged particles and the distortion and ripple of the water's surface.

It's really quite fun with the music, like a personal Laserium :D

In InWorldz, I was able to scale the prims up so it is truly awesome in scale; standing under it you are surrounded by movement and color. I will also be composing my own ambient/tone poem score for it there.

Theatre of War at The Zinn, Four Bridges

Theatre of War

An installation done for The Zinn, a new area in the Four Bridges sims that Trill Zapatero has been working feverishly on. The opening for that area is also TBA (soon).

The Theatre has a 'soundtrack' of a David Bowie song, "Life on Mars?" from Hunky Dory. A link is provided to call up a You Tube page of the song in case you have no iTunes or mp3 handy, similar to the device I used in 'Big Winter'.

The Theatre is populated by ghosts, visual and audible. The 'fog of war' blows this way and that. Quotes from glorious war movies evoke laughter, applause and cheers from the inhabiting phantoms.

The screen behind the figures is an animated texture of many images of war and flickers very quickly, causing the glow around the central figures to jump and jiggle. At Midnight the figures can be seen clearly, especially the all-but-invisible dead child.

Trill did a great theatre marquee for the entrance. Be sure to get a Ticket before entering.

Both pieces have Flickr albums, which you can get to from the link in the sidebar here.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

This Whole Hamlet Thing

I guess you can't make an omelet...

*slips on shades*

... without a few cracked eggs.


Horatio Moment

[see me inworld for the CSI:Miami gesture] :D


BTW, you might enjoy soror nishi's Vogue, in which my def friend MCPixLz scratched out some righteous mashup for the soundtrack :D

Monday, March 7, 2011

Sabrinaa Nightfire - A Real Person

If you could see the outpouring of grief and loss in Second Life on the passing of this most loving and generous person, who touched so many people's lives through this medium, you'd never again listen to the notion that "Second Life is not real people."

Sabrinaa touched so many with her gifts of encouragement, humor, support and love. Our world is a dimmer place today for this loss.

Fair winds and clear paths, Sab.

Please see soror nishi's blog for a guestbook/comment field where you can leave comments.

Here is a blog post by her aunt from earlier today

Well, if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine

Well, if you go when the snowflakes storm
When the rivers freeze and summer ends
Please see if she’s wearing a coat so warm
To keep her from the howlin’ winds

Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
If it rolls and flows all down her breast.
Please see for me if her hair hangs long,
That’s the way I remember her best.

I’m a-wonderin’ if she remembers me at all
Many times I’ve often prayed
In the darkness of my night
In the brightness of my day

So if you’re travelin’ in the north country fair
Where the winds hit heavy on the borderline
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine"

- Girl from the North Country, Bob Dylan

"Are you going to Scarborough Fair?
Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme
Remember me to one who lives there
She once was a true love of mine."

Scarborough Faire,traditional

Friday, March 4, 2011

Transparency - Grist for the Mill

It comes in waves - this push for "transparency" and "accountability" on the net. It seems that both common sense and common practice go out the window if you just throw 'teh innernetz' at them, in the same way "9/11 changed everything!" is used now to justify the most horrendous shredding of human rights and decency, ushering in a proto-fascist nightmare that would have George Orwell slamming his head against a brick wall and screaming "My imagination was so paltry!"

This particular wave seems to have been touched off by a 'tweet' by 'Bettina Tizzy': "Are SLers in denial? I think avatar=real person privacy is at death's door" Well... for one thing, using this person's internal logic, it's difficult to take such a statement seriously from a person using a fake name to promote transparency and accountability, seeing that 'Bettina Tizzy' is an assumed name for a real person named Beverly Millson. It is also puzzling that 'Bettina Tizzy' is a registered FaceBook user, which appears to violate the FaceBook TOS regarding false names, and almost everything I can see on 'Bettina Tizzy' in several search engines makes no connection to the real person legally named Beverly Millson...


As the mythical and anecdotal Down-To-Earth Sensible Farmer invoked by many Republicrats would say, let's run this 'transparency' pig through the common-sense grinder and see what kind of sausage comes out the other end.


Somewhere you are always anonymous

WTF is with all this push to total transparency? I mean, what's the point? Not being sassy; I am asking an honest question. Things don't happen for no reason. Cui bono?

I've frequented coffee shops, bars and bookstores all my life. I've gone to some of them often enough that they know something, or even a lot, about some part of me: how much coffee or otherwise I drink, what time I usually come in, my first name, my friends I might bring in, my opinions on various things, my fashion sense (or lack of it), what books I might be reading or what films I have seen recently... yet almost no one in those places knows my phone number, my mailing address, my banks... and why would it be important for them to know? Do I need to know the book guy's last name? The bartender's? Where they bank? What kind of loan the waitress has on her car?

For all practical purposes, I am semi-anonymous at those places. I'm sure you can think of 200 other scenarios and examples from your own life and the lives of most people where you are either completely anonymous or semi-anonymous. This is real life; this is common practice and conduct.

My Avatar, My Best Self

I was trying to explain something about Second Life to one of my new CSULB friends [see previous post] about avatars when one asked me, "Is your avatar close to what you look like in real life?" In turn, I asked her, "Do you dye your hair sometimes? Do people get their teeth capped, go to tanning booths, get liposuction and face lifts? Do you dress differently for a dinner with your parents or for work/school than you do for a night out with your boyf? Do you wear makeup?" [it always pays to use the dialectic approach] Of course I design my avatar in a fashion that is a reflection of my idealized self! I'd do it in real life if I could! So would you!

Am I lying in real life when I slather on the war paint? When I use a tanning booth in January in Boston? [well, that one is kinda obvious to most people, but still] When I tell someone in a bar my name is Trixie and I live in Poughkeepsie? Am I avoiding accountability? Am I falsifying my presentation to the world??? [ps- guys, this means you when you try to suck in your abs when you think someone's looking at you]

Of course I am, silly! So are you in various situations. But why? For nefarious reasons? Am I planning to make off to the Seyshelles with the skim from my shady bookkeeping of the boss's business? Am I plotting to heist that absolutely nummy diamond necklace in Cartier's window? Am I planning a terrist attack? Am I planning to murder my boyf? [well, that's an up and down thing, you know what i mean girls]

No. I'm having fun. I'm showing some steam, dancing in a fountain, being the star of my own Hollywood movie, changing hairstyles and shoes from mere whim and caprice, princess of my own domain [which naturally includes the entire known and unknown universe]. I'm auditioning and trying on various personas, poking around inside my head and heart and finding all the pieces of me that lurk or sparkle there. It's a thing that human beings do and have been doing for a long time. People do it every time they sit down to a game of Monopoly and pretend to be a hard-rolling vulture capitalist.

Is 'total transparency' really helpful?

Jeffrey Dahmer had a good, stable bank account, was reportedly nice to children and considered "a nice guy" by his neighbors; so was John Wayne Gacy. Would having their net personas linked to their rl data in any way have indicated that these men were committing heinous crimes? Would such anal dataprobes have caught Charles Stuart? Not according to all newspaper reports. I can think of at least 40 other examples to illustrate this simple point: no kind of data transparency would have been in the least effective to stop these men.

On the other end of the spectrum is the now-admitted failure of the CIA to act on the data it already had to hand to prevent the 9/11 attacks, using only the lawful and well-regulated means and methods of information collection granted to it by the US Congress. They didn't need sweeping new and questionable regulations to snoop even deeper into the private lives of US citizens; they couldn't even use the information they had.

Likewise, the sad and sorry case of military whistle-blower Bradley P Manning, who now faces the death penalty for "leaking" information about gross and illegal breaches of military code and ethics (no, not the diplomatic cables you've been distracted with but the killing of known civilians and reporters in Iraq by US military personnel). Supposedly, official channels were set up to report such criminal military breaches after the exposures of the Pentagon Papers, Lt William Calley, Contragate and many others. There are now several reports out that detail Manning's attempts to go through proper channels and report these crimes to his military superiors; the only reason Manning went to Wikileaks is that his reports were denied, buried and he was subject to military discipline for attempting to address these crimes in a lawful manner through these supposedly clear channels.

I suppose that Vikas Mavhudzi might have another opinion on transparency also; a Zimbabwe man arrested and charged with “subverting a constitutional government” for the following comment on his PM's Facebook page: “I am overwhelmed, I don’t want to say Mr. or PM what happened in Egypt is sending shock waves to dictators around the world. No weapon but unity of purpose worth emulating, hey.”

Here's another clue for you all...

The huge recent kerfluffle about zF Red Zone and VWR-24746 in Second Life covered hither and yon across the SLinterblog landscape is merely one tendril of an increasingly loud drumbeat of ersatz debate on the issue of whether I need to be followed, tabulated, sorted, shuffled and slotted into a category for easy access by forces unknown for their convenience. The proponents of this position structure their arguments as if this is only common sense and any questioning or dissent is met with the ad hominem attack "If you have nothing to hide, why are you afraid?"

Here's a good reason why: the people who want to get around such measures will always find a way to circumvent any rules or regulations designed to bring them to accountability. People do it all the time. They're called criminals. Laws won't stop them; technical measures (locks, alarms, watchmen, security systems) won't stop them; just read any newspaper or history book.

I have programs that allow me to hide information inside a picture, reverse hexadecimal, in the hidden sectors on a hard disk, XOR, Redshirt or in telephone tones. I know codes incorporated into musical nomenclature, mathematics, literature, Braille and Morse. I even know the difference between a code and a cypher!

Why? I am not a big-time hacker or terrist; I am a computer enthusiast.
I'm also just a big kid who likes secret decoder rings, invisible ink, clandestine letter drops in the hollows of old dead trees, shared bywords and passwords among friends and confidential notes passed furtively in class while pretending to listen to a boring instructor.

If I have these tools... they are widely available. I know where I could go to get even heavier tools should I desire them; I know where to go downtown if I want to score some weed or an unregistered handgun too. I know where to go for a shady loan. And in none of those places will my legal/financial identity be compromised or even asked.

The pertinent point, as discussed in many of the recent blog postings, is that these types of regulation-turned-laws will never stop the criminally-inclined, and only serve as an erosion of our civil rights. Humans have, except for rare madnesses that sweep the species at random intervals [carefully avoids invoking Godwin's Law], generally not treated most people as potential or actual criminals.

And for another huge and good reason why, page down to the Addendum at the end of this post.

So, who profits?

As far as transparency goes... who needs this? I don't give my employer all my financial details, nor do I give them to landlords, book clubs, local hobbyist meetings or anyone I meet in a store in physical life. I don't see a sensible reason to have this compulsion to make my name linked to every other place I go on the net. It goes against everything I know of normal human behaviour.

The only reason I can see for this "total transparency" meme being pushed is to benefit the profiteers. The people who wish to attach themselves like leeches and farm me like some kind of data-animal.

Why is it important for me to have my legal name linked to a gaming discussion site? Why even is it important for me to have my avatar linked? If someone wants to do monetary business with me, they get my Paypal account. If someone wished to contact me for a viable RL reason, I'd make another avatar with that info (isn't that what Display Names is supposed to be about?). If someone wants to do other business with me, they get my LinkedIn account, one of my several email accounts or even my telephone number. There's a million options I have for levels of exposure, which is not only good net practice but something we do every day in physical life.

And hey, while we're on the subject... why do you have several different email addresses that you give out in tiered levels of access? To stop the spam-barnacles from attaching themselves to you when you are forced to provide an email address for every stupid one-shot site you go to on the net, knowing that they will be selling that email address to marketeers and spammers 20 seconds after you push the CONFIRM button? Of course. You're evading accountability, you criminal you! Yeah... sounds stupid put that way, eh?

I really can't buy the 'zomg child-molesting terrist dope-fiends are everywhere!' BS as a rationale for this type of complete shredding and trashing of the 4th Amendment, nor the business rationales for this as detailed above. Given the tiny amount of information included in this post, and thousands of other examples that a few hours of dedicated Googling will provide, I really can't see any other reason for this need to link up every single aspect of myself to everything else except for one: marketeering; farming users, reducing us to datacows; rummaging through my life like sneak thieves pawing through my lingerie drawer in pursuit of salacious 'secrets.' Either that, or I am already potentially guilty of some crime or other...

Excuse my Unix, but fsck that.

We already have what we need

The US Mail was conceived as a communications service for the benefit of the populace and the whole. Rules and regulations covering this service were well-thought out by men of good will and excellent intelligence. Just because the communication is now electronic, a little thought on the matter would suffice to realize that the same rules and regulations easily and unconfusingly apply to electronic communication without further modification.

We already have quite enough rules and regulations for the needs of law enforcement to obtain legal warrants for wiretapping and other means of electronic and physical monitoring. We have seen that even when they do make use of these laws, they cannot even co-ordinate their use of the information they already have. We have seen that 'transparency' is a fiction, because there is no true and two-way transparency; corporations will lie, cheat, steal, reverse position, organize deceptive astroturfing schemes, solicit criminal behaviour and engage in a panoply of shady and disreputable actions in their voracious pursuit of profit.

The only thing that "9/11" changed was our willingness to let hysterics shred the Constitution and Bill of Rights and encourage the military and intelligence communities to collude with business in seeking to send their vampiric tentacles into every nook and cranny of our lives.


You think I trust these guys with all of my personal data?

Netflix sells your data

MySpace sells your data

Facebook sells your data

FourSquare sells your data

DynaWeb FreeGate, GPass, and FirePhoenix sell your data

TiVo sells your data

InfoChimps sells your Twitter data

... and so on, especially in the light of a thousand stories like these:

Giant list of high-profile data mishandling

Another giant list of data mishandling by financial institutions

An additional huge list of data breaches

Commerce, Wachovia, BofA and PNC data mishandled

AT&T's iPhone & iPad breaches

US Dept of Veteran Affairs breach

Viacom's attack on Google

Bank of America & HPGary Federal's plot to poison and hack social sites

... and so on. Please do note that in none of the cases cited above was data loss due to hackers but to the financial institutions mishandling the data themselves.


"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

- Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution


Full Disclosure: [as full as I can make it with my memory, yo]

1. I don't get paid by anybody :(

2. I was on drugs when I wrote this: specifically caffeine, nicotine and sugar.

3. I was visited at times during the writing of this post by the ghosts of Hunter S. Thompson and Dorothy Parker.

4. No, my "real name" is not Miso Susanowa [at least for now, until the paperwork goes through]. But unless you are the IRS or going to send me money, that's all you get.

The soundtrack to this post was Vangelis: Blade Runner - OST: Esper Version

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Digital Art Frontiers - CalStateU at Long Beach

We're all concerned about the attention and reputation we all have for working in this new world, this new frontier of both art and communication. Often we are subject to media's salacious and attention-grabbing coverage of the lowest possibilities of virtual worlds and the net ("omg naked amatards!!!") This is the equivalent of choosing only to represent the telephone or the automobile by how many cheating husbands and wives use one, or how many murderers or drug dealers use a car and a phone... ridiculous, isn't it?

So I am always happy to report when a university sees the potential and possibilities of this medium and introduces the next generation of immigrants to our world. Such is the case with Cal State University at Long Beach. I was contacted by Glenn Zucman (SL: Lothar Leborski), an instructor at CSULB who, as part of his Art110 class, has introduced students into SL and the artistic activity and possibilities here. Mr. Zucman has his students setting up virtual art galleries in Second Life and has included SL artists in his course.

This is very cool! I am honored to be asked, and I am in extremely good company: other SL artists selected for this course/project include Gracie Kendal, Bryn Oh, Four Yip, Vaneeesa Blaylock, Comet Morigi and Joseph DeLapp. We are in good company also as regards the rest of the syllabus: Banksy, Vivienne Westwood, Shepard Fairey and so on. W00t! Some respectability there!

I've been meeting with the students assigned to study me (laughing) and being an ambassador for Second Life (while also teaching them what "tp" and "LM" means) as well as discussing art in general and my work in particular. It's a lot of fun as well as being important to the image of these worlds as more than a glorified sex chatroom or 3D Farmville, and I am all kudos and props to Mr Zucman for being informed, interested and supportive of the work and explorations we artists are involved in here.

Me hanging at my Garden with my new buds from CSULB