Black Second Life User Shares Real & Virtual Experiences With the Confederate Battle Flag

Confederate Rebel Battle Flag Second Life

"It is good to see someone speak about what the Confederate flag is about, and what I, my family, and other African people have had to live with for many years," wrote SL user "bellahyae", commenting in Tuesday's post on that flag's sale in Second Life's official store, reflecting an opinion similar to that shared by many African-Americans for many years, but largely ignored until last month's atrocity

"I wish people knew how much it hurt to see the flag on TV and in places which are supposed to represent everyone in a fair manner, like court houses. I have been to places in Second Life which had the flag up." She continues: 

"We always knew what it meant. That we and others with our color are not wanted around that area. It is like putting up a 'Caucasian only' sign. I have a lot of bad memories with that flag. Like walking past homes of people who have them proudly displayed in front of their homes... while at the same time, the mean stares we got just for walking by their home. People looking at us and then spitting. Being called the N word for no reason and often out of the blue."

"Bellahyae" goes on: "I do not know its full history, but for people of my color, that flag always means one thing: You're not welcome here. With a feeling that your existence is looked down on, and the threat that they would love to have us swinging from trees by our necks again."

A number of New World Notes readers have defended the continued sale of the flag in the SL Marketplace, and she had a comment on that as well:

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When Second Life's Tiniest Avatar Meets Its Tallest...

... the contrast gets epic:

Video, by the way, by Terry Shuriken, whose Second Life avatar is "somewhere between 1/3rd or 1/4th of an inch tall." Not quite sure who this particularly titanic avatar is, but this type has been measured as up to 200 feet tall.

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Cumberbatch-y Sherlock Holmes Recreated in Second Life

Sherlock Holmes SL cosplay

The mystery of the avatar who looks like Benedict Cumberbatch deepens: Darius Godric not only looks like actor playing the BBC's latest incarnations of Mr. Holmes, but he's built out an incredibly detailed recreation of the show's 221B Baker Street location. Eddi Haskell paid a visit, and met Holmes/Godric in his study (above), as did Goizane Latzo, who has many more pics. But now that the game's afoot, visit Holmes for yourself by putting this link into the SL viewer of your choice:

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SL Flickr Stream of the Day: Virtual Sherlock Cosplay

Sherlock Holmes Cumberbatch Cosplay

I've seen some truly impressive Second Life-based cosplay in my day, but Darius Godric's tribute to the BBC Sherlock Holmes series and star Benedict Cumberbatch is truly profound and on-point. Click here to embiggenate. My man Godric even recreated Sherlock's 221B Baker Street exterior and Sherlock in his study.

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Why Prejudice Against Second Life Avatar Roleplay Exists

Second Life avatar roleplay predjudice

Kara Trapdoor has a provocative post about SL user prejudice against other Second Life users who roleplay, which somewhat ironically spins off from a Facebook thread which starts with this SLer's rant (lightly edited for grammar):

I am adult I can't roleplay a kid, I am accused or being a pedophile -- I assure you I am not. I am male and I can't roleplay female, I get accused of being gay -- I am not. I am white and I can't roleplay black, I get accused of being racist -- I am not. I can't roleplay an animal, I get accused or being weird. What do you do, roleplay yourself? Where's the fun in that? I thought Second Life was about pretending. Get an imagination.

To which Kara offers her own perspective, including this passage which makes a rather centrist argument for roleplay:

We would like others to [roleplay] how we do but of course everyone plays their own way. If I am not close to someone I don't care, but if I am close, even if they don't look or act remotely close to what they would in RL, to an extent I'd still like to be aware of that if I have formed a real bond. It doesn't mean I would give them a hard time, though. Plus there are rules about age play, just saying, so with that, I get why people would be upset. I think it depends what people are doing with their alternative forms.

Emphasis mine. TL;DL: Roleplay is fine, as long as it's always understood as roleplay.

Another commenter writes:

"SL is one place where you can experience your dreams and fantasies without being judged."

This, however, is entirely incorrect: Your fantasies and dreams will be judged in Second Life by other users -- not by all of them, not by most of them, but you will be judged, and to think otherwise is to set yourself up for shock and disappointment.

Why? Well, it's been a recurring theme in my writing through countless posts, but to summarize it here:

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How Old Can't Guess How Old Wrinkle-Free Avatars Are

Cajsa Lilliehook SL age

Microsoft's How Old app could fairly accurately guess the age of my avatar, but look how wackily off it is for the various avatar variations of Ms. Cajsa Lilliehook, anywhere from 6 to 28.

"In most of the pics," Cajsa tells me, laughing wrly, "it's a PXL skin which is one I prefer because it looks older." (Click to embiggen.) Looks like the lack of any wrinkles or age contours confuses the crap of the program. Which helps to illustrate a larger truism about avatars: Perfection and ageless beauty is easy to stimulate - the opposite, not so much.

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So How Old is Your Avatar? Please Don't Say 24

Age Detection Site

How Old, as the URL name suggests, is a site (from Microsoft) that analyzes and estimates the age of the person in any photo you upload. It's been viral for the last few days, and of course I wondered if it would analyze the age of avatars in screenshots I uploaded, and of course it does. 34 sounds about right for my Second Life avatar, though it's notable that my MyIdol avatar is slightly younger. My guess is most Second Life avatars will land in their late 20s/early 30s, and if anyone happened to upload their IMVU (bleh) avatar, he or she would be in their early 20s. But maybe I'm wrong!

Give it a shot and report your stats in Comments!

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Kickstarter to Avatarize Yourself for 3D Worlds, Printing

Via Robert Thomas, here's an ambitious Kickstarter which brings high-end 3D motion capture to the masses, enabling anyone with $159 or more to avatarize themselves for 3D worlds or 3D printing, watch:

Slight catch: You need to be available and on-hand in various US cities during the project's tour to do the 3D capture process, but if you can do that, you're working with technology currently being used in VR:

We've already used the xxArray to develop a number of groundbreaking commercial projects, including the first-ever interactive 3D campaign for Amazon's Kindle Fire HDX to promote Relativity Media's "Earth to Echo," and Nurulize’s "RISE" demo, a 4K VR experience created for the Oculus Rift's DK2.

Pretty cool, if you really want to see yourself in full digitized 3D, though I sort of suspect the market self-avatarization is pretty limited. Also, to judge by the above video, this technology can capture the physical body, but not the soul -- i.e. facial expressions, emotions, etc. (At least at the asking price point.)

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Yes, You Can Convert Your SL Avatar Into Huanshi's MyIdol

MyIdol Huanshi Second Life avatar

How Hamlet looks in Huanshi's MyIdol

MyIdol (listed by its Chinese name in Apple's App Store: 小偶 - 我的3D萌偶), a free app from a developer called Huanshi, has gone incredibly viral. (As Iris reported last week, in a post that's been read by thousands of new readers, presumably people trying to Google information about MyIdol.) The app's designed to convert real world photos onto a 3D cartoon avatar, but as you can see above, MyIdol can also convert a straight-on image of your Second Life avatar. (Probably works with other MMO/RPGs, I suspect.) I think the conversion actually work even better than using RL photos (for obvious reasons). Give it a try, NWNers, and the post results in Comments!

So far, the app itself is pretty simple, with some cute/stupid animations and a large wardrobe of costumes you can play with. However, I actually suspect Huanshi has something even more ambitious in mind:

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Comedian Who Got His Start Performing Live in Second Life from Pakistan Gets His Own Show on the BBC

Seven years ago, a comedian named Sami Shah who lived in Pakistan used to perform live stand-up in various Second Life venues -- including (see above) the post-apocalyptic Wasteland, where he told jokes about the Taliban, terrorism, and other current events topics in the avatar of a chimpanzee, to an audience of robots, cyber-warriors, and other strange denizens. Since then, Sami left Pakistan (in part to escape death threats provoked by his pointed humor about religion), becoming a rising star in his new home of Australia. And last night, he made this awesome announcement on Twitter:

That's right: A man who got his start performing comedy as an avatar chimp in a futuristic hellscape in the metaverse now has his own radio show on the world's largest and most prestigious radio network. And yes, Sami credits his performances in Second Life as helping kickstart his comedy career. As he told me a couple years ago:

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