I guess Pais’ blog topic will be a little philosophical today, but trust me, we are definitely sticking with the topic of his second life. The title I chose, “To Perceive is to Create” is actually one of those multi-layered statements that at one level can reference the notion that we are not really existing in a real world we sense and then construct a perception of that world in our mind, but reality is actually in our minds and by focusing we create a physical world.
Wait – don’t leave yet – I know this statement is a little in the “like, wow, maaaan, ever look at your hand, dude?” department… so we can scale back the ‘to perceive is to create’ axiom into the more pragmatic notion that whatever we choose to focus on becomes the world for us. Read: what is it about SL that keeps us wanting to spend time there?
So what Pais is really thinking about is the nature of his reality and his existence.
Does he exist? Of course – you are reading his blog.
Why is he here? Ah, if we could distill this answer well enough, we would be onto the answer so many seem not to grasp.
I had been talking to a friend who works for a library. They said the library had people creating a SL presence. I inwardly rolled my eyes, thinking that this was just like so many other RL businesses that seem to think they are magically progressive if they create an in-world version of themselves, yet in most cases after they spend scads of money they have a some lame sim with a pile of fancy custom prims in some sort of construction, zero traffic, and their logo hanging pathetically in the midst. My theory is they don’t stop to consider the nature of the reality of second life, and why those of us that live here are here. It is this Pais is contemplating while reflecting on his existence.
Scan through my recent blogs and you can see that my relationships in SL are important to me. Take a look at Pais or Flo and you see we wear dog tags.
We made these dog tags to commemorate when we became partners. This was a huge event for me. We went a step further, as you can see in the image of RL dog tags that we had made and shipped to both of us. To me this illustrates how strong a connection can be that is formed in SL, it is the root of Pais’ reason to be alive, and I am coming to believe it is the aspect of SL that must be understood by anyone trying to incorporate SL as part of their RL business model. How is it we connect with others within SL? What gives it the “juice” that energizes our imaginations and our emotions? If we understand this, we understand ourselves better, but also understand what are the next steps to becoming more human in an otherwise synthetic world (referring to both SL and RL here)
I was looking for a compelling use of SL as a too to augment some bona fide RL need and found a Harvard Law School course that uses it called “Cyber One: Law in the Court of Public Opinion“. Here is a excerpt from their site, talking about the use of SL in their course:
The course will be offered as a distance education course to students at the Harvard Extension School. The experience of the Harvard Extension School students will include videos of the live lectures at Harvard Law School as in previous Harvard courses offered through the Extension School.
The Extension School audience experience will be mediated by participation in a 3D virtual environment called Second Life. Even to many seasoned computer and Internet users, the idea of a 3D virtual environment may sound more like a thing of science fiction or a video game. In fact, it is a cutting edge development in teaching technology. The Second Life environment for Harvard Extension School participants permits us to foster a sense of community among students taking the course at a distance. It provides a rich medium for students to interact directly and satisfyingly with their instructors and their fellow students.
At first when I saw this I was pretty dismissive, thinking why bother to use SL when they could get pretty much the same results using websites and more standard web-based video teleconferencing tools. But I read the professor’s blog taking about their first classes in SL and looked at some other first-hand descriptions and I realized my dismissiveness was pretty hypocritical. The simple fact is that Pais finds real connection with his friends, family, and especially his beloved partner, Flo, in SL. I project part of myself into SL as Pais and when I see him interact with others, as well as the media content and chat, it all comes together into a compelling reality. We can see from the class that uses this that students that are otherwise connecting remotely to the school can have an in-world experience that helps them better connect with other humans in their classes, providing a dimension that is otherwise lost with “extension” learning. Maybe there is really something to this.
It seems to me that if any real world business wants to create a presence in SL, if they don’t understand some human essence of ‘to perceive is to create’ and how it makes being in SL worthwhile, they are going spend a bundle on a zero traffic sim. At the same time, we as residents can also learn to capitalize on the more human side of our natures here, also evolving the experience.