Apologies for the lack of posts over the last day or so, but I fear I’ve been exploring the extraordinary virtual world that is Second Life. The Blogpower Award Ceremony is to be held there on Sunday 1st of July, courtesy of Tom Paine, at 0900 New York time (1400 in Britain, 1500 Central Europe Time, 1700 in Moscow and 2200 in Australia), so I thought I’d better go and check the place out.
It really is great fun; being show the ropes by an established resident, like the extremely hospitable Mr Paine, certainly helps, but it’s all pretty intuitive and before long you’re happily strolling, flying and teleporting around, just exploring this dream-like and, at times, rather surreal virtual world. I’ve succumbed to its charms, and have rented one of Mr Paine’s virtual apartments there as a base — you don’t need to do such a thing, but it’s more convenient that way and being a resident of this virtual world means you get to do many things that visitors can’t, like decorating and furnishing your apartment and start virtual businesses and so forth.
I’ve just spent a very entertaining afternoon with Mr Paine and Ruthie Zaftig, who has taken to Second Life like a duck to water, learning how to fly, sitting on the roof terrace of Tom’s (literal) castle in the air, while smoking virtual dope and eating virtual hash brownies (the last I manged to be given as free samples, during a lone exploration of some of the more disreputable neighbourhoods). We also took Ruthie on a virtual shopping expedition, from which she emerged with some shoes to die for; one of the great things about Second Life is that the exchange rate with real-world currencies is quite advantageous at the moment, so you can be absurdly generous to your friends (or at least Mr Paine can, since he’s the only one with a bank account there at the moment) for less than the price of a cup of tea.
I’ve been trying to work out what it reminded me of, and the whole thing was vaguely reminiscent of going shopping in the Moscow currency shops in the early 90s. only in this case we were, effectively, paying in black market roubles rather than valuta.
Anyway, I highly recommend giving Second Life a whirl. The software is easy enough to install on both Windows and Linux (though apparently there are supposedly some problems with Windows Vista — it does work on it, from what I read, but you may need to fiddle around with some of the Windows settings). The Linux install is a piece of cake, provided you don’t neglect to read the ‘Read Me’ text first, which tells you to ensure you’ve got the correct video drivers installed — not a problem if you haven’t, since it tells you where to get them from and they’re simple to install, too.
I really would suggest people give this strange alternative world a visit; the Blogpower awards would be a perfect opportunity, since people will know each other, or at least someone else there, or will at least know people from reading their blogs, so there will be people there to talk to. I’d suggest, though, paying a couple of visits beforehand, just to orientate yourself, play around with your appearance there (you can change your appearance, and even species, to your heart’s content), learn how to move about and so forth. My virtual residency should be set up in the next few days — when it is, I’ll post something about it and will be happy to entertain visitors there.