Being in Shape

No, this is truly not about how to take your avatar out to a gym and work it out 🙂 Fortunately, in Second Life, getting a trim and fit shape is just… one click away.

It is also not a resource to help you out among the millions of shapes out there to find the one that looks the nicest.

However, it’s related to both — and to three other things which are apparently unrelated. Firstly, it’s about one thing that both my good friend Extropia DaSilva and myself have been thinking for quite a long while (and writing about it), which could, in a sense, be resumed to a single concept: finding the true nature of our selves, and how, strangely, Second Life®, helps us with some hints (we have reached different conclusions after travelling different paths). Secondly, it springs forth from a conversation with another dear female friend who received a strange gift from a male friend: he generously bought her a new shape, vaguely alluding to the fact that she would look “much nicer” with her new shape. And thirdly, it arises from this strange relationship (or even a bond!) that we create with our Second Life avatars, which is so strange to explain to anyone that hasn’t been around for long enough, and the way that is ties ino the nature of self — and no, it’s not about augmentism vs. immersionism again, although it might show us some clues on one of the reasons for the different approaches to something quite subtle – the way we ultimately view ourselves and what a “self” is.

I’m not going to promise to be very rational, or even organised in my thoughts. I hope that by providing a few examples I might encourage you to think and reflect about the very same issues, and reach your own conclusions.

Signatures

It is the 21st century, and we have immense power at out fingertips — the power of the printed word. We usually don’t think twice about what it means. Some historians believe that the big schisms in religion and modern thought happened shortly after the printed press was (re)invented in Europe, and all of a sudden words became cheap and widespread, in print. The printed word — in the form of cheap newspapers — later gave rise to odd notions (which we all find commonplace today) like freedom of expression, and, in a sense, even to democracy, by providing a pillar upon which human rights can be founded. I might just have compressed 650 or so years of history into a single paragraph, and these conclusions are far from consensual, but they tend to point to the overall idea that if you can set ideas to print, and do so very cheaply, these ideas become powerful, and enable revolution of thought. At least, to a degree.

But in this century we have gone a step further. We have eliminated editors, distributors, copy-writers. Anyone with a computer can create the printed word very easily and disseminate it to millions. The power, as Bill Gates would have said, is truly in our fingertips. But… we lost something in the process: a word is just like any other word. A typeface used by someone looks just like the very same typeface used by someone else. Thus, when writing an article (or an essay, or a book — or even an email), we lost, to a sense, a certain degree of individuality. All emails look the same inside Gmail (or your favourite e-mail