Sunday, March 14, 2010

Sex is optional!

SAN FRANCISCO, California - Christopher Columbus found the new world. Neil Armstrong set foot on another planet. Now, in the most significant leap forward in virtual world technology ever, Linden Labs has defied conventional wisdom and made sex optional in the Second Life universe!

Its true! In an effort to bring the world into alignment with mainstream culture, no one in the entire virtual world is required in any way to participate in any activities they don't care to be involved in! This is considered a milestone in virtual world development.

Oddly, no press release was involved in this sea change concept. In fact, no software was changed, or even the license agreements for using the software. In fact, the only thing that changed was the mentality of the users. In an incredible leap forward, Second Life citizens are taking control of their own lives, and simply saying "no" to doing things they didn't want to do in the first place.

In fact, recently uncovered documentation reveals that participating in sexual activities in Second Life actually involves spending money to buy sexy clothing, body parts and sexual aids to facilitate such activities. "This is a lot of work" exclaimed one customer overheard while shopping. "And expensive!" he went on to say, while entering his credit card information. Many potential virtual world users, when made aware of this were shocked.

"I always thought sex was like, well you know, required in Second Life" said Joe Dunderhead, a recent citizen in the world. "I mean, all the people that I talked to that never even had memberships in Second Life said it was required, so I just, you know, believed them. I've been looking since I got here, and haven't seen any yet!"

This has actually come as a complete shock to many fundamental religious groups that had soundly condemned Second Life for what they believed were its policies, even though they had never actively investigated those policies themselves.

"We're having to rethink things" stated Jeffery Falwell of the "'Jesus never had sex' Church" in Minnesota. "I mean, up until now, everyone thought that aberrant behavior was being forced on virtual world users. Now to find out that its an act of will - that users have to actually make a conscious decision and vigorously pursue having sex in the virtual world, well this changes everything". Mr. Falwell went on to explain that the founding principles of Christian religion are based on free choice, which apparently Second Life has now embraced fully. "With 'free choice', people are free to do - or not do - whatever they like. This has profound implications."

Oddly, not all virtual worlds have embraced such a concept. Many have taken the route of preventing users from performing many activities, and been touted as taking the high ground. Steve Smith from the Center for Doing What I Damn Well Please insisted that this is a landmark approach to software development. "For many years, Microsoft has influenced us all into believing that everyone should do things one way - that there was only one right way to do things. This literally opens up a world of possibilities where people make the software do what they want, instead of the other way around."

There have still been many cries of "foul" from religious groups. "This is unnatural!" was the headline in a recent fundamental religious tabloid. "The idea that people are given choice in their lives is ridiculous. We don't have control over taxes. We don't have control over healthcare or our government. Why should we have control over our software?"

Linden Labs officials were not available for comment, but it is widely believed that the idea of making software answer to its users actually predates the virtual world, and goes back to the beginning of time itself.

In an off-camera interview a citizen was quoted as saying "Do what you want? Kind of seems... natural".

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Childhood's end

When I was growing up, there were no Rescue Heroes. Whereas today we have sports superstars, then there were one or two "very special" sportsmen (no women) like Babe Ruth, and that was it. There were comic book heroes, but they were mythical, not real, and not portrayed as real through the wonders of SFX. The notable political figures, George, Abe, etc., had all been dead a few hundred (or a few thousand years).

But there was one group of people who were clearly in the category of super heroes. These were people that had done things that no human in all of time had ever done. They were bigger than life. They were the best of the best.

They were the astronauts.

These were the men with the right stuff. They withstood rigors and physical tests unlike anything we had ever seen. They ventured bravely into the last frontier, a bitterly cold and airless, lifeless place, and they proved that mankind had not lost its spirit of adventure and exploration.

The seven Mercury Astronauts did more to affirm mankind's place in the universe than anyone who had come before them.

To aspire to be an astronaut was to aspire to godliness.

Okay, perhaps as a child I over-dramatized a tad. But as I lived through the formation of the astronaut core, I witnessed a birth of something never seen before. It was a very special time, a time when dreams were alive, and the vast unknown was a garden that we were setting off to explore, in all its wonder.

The more we learned about space, space travel and the more technology we pioneered, the less mysterious and wondrous the final frontier seemed. The space shuttle program was intentionally designed to make near Earth space travel routine and safe. It was still an amazing adventure, but not as magical somehow. But astronauts still had to have the right stuff, and becoming one was still a thing of honor.

Therefore, I was hit hard by the recent events involving Astronaut Lisa Nowak.

I am disappointed. I've been told I have no right to be. I've read that like ordinary people, astronauts "put their flight boots on one foot at a time". I've been told that things happen, and the more stressful the job, the more likely these things are.

Still, seeing one of the best, the brightest, come down so hard, so fast and so horribly, its almost like seeing Superman shoplifting.

So it is with some guilt and shame of my own that I hold out hope that it will be found that Lisa suffers from some sort of chemical imbalance, brain tumor or disease. I've even fantasized that perhaps she became exposed to some terrible substance while on her mission in space and isn't responsible for her actions. My worst fear would be to find that, like a love sick school girl, she jeopardized her entire career, and the reputation of the space program to satisfy a selfish urge.

I don't wish her any harm. I don't really want her to be sick. I hope she's well (or as well as can be expected), that she comes through all this, and somehow gets on with her life.

But try as I might, I can't avoid feeling a loss, a sadness, at the passing of something that may never come again.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Blog on blogs

I've been using the Internet since I got my first copy of Mosaic for Windows 3.1 back in the early, early 90s. I've used collaboration tools such as the precursor to Lotus Notes, Usenet newsgroups, Videotex, BBS', online forums, CompuServe, GEnie and more. I sent my first email in 1981. I created my first Internet web site in 1998 and my first intranet site before that.

All this time I've been fascinated with the power and potential of people being able to share information and interact with others from around the globe more easily than they might with their next door neighbor, or the person sitting opposite them on the train.

But never have I been both fascinated and perplexed with any other Internet phenomenon as I have been by the blog.

The ability to create a web site was dizzying when I first discovered it. It was empowering, yet humbling. It wasn't without its warts, but it seemed like more than anyone would ever need to join the global, intellectual community.

But I discovered, as apparently many others did, that the unlimited power of creating a web site was not the ultimate empowerment. There was still too much of a barrier of entry, both in the technical expertise and knowledge base required. Also, the tools, consisting mostly of simple forms, were still too crude for those not computer literate. Forums struggled in vain to replace newsgroups using early web technology.

But slowly, critical mass of Internet users and convenient web technologies like Javascript, Ajax, etc. came together to make the Internet more approachable than ever before.

And has it ever been approached!

The blog, a simple way to, in effect make a web site - an interactive web site - has reached an amazing groundswell, from people posting their ideas and opinions, to others just sharing their daily lives in a sort of universal, collective, online dairy.

As much as I've thought and dreamed of this vast, level playing field for discourse, the popularity and potential of the blog is still something that I have yet to fully embrace.

This is the reason I've decided to start my own blog. Sometimes one can only fully understand a new concept by doing.

This thread will be my bell weather for future directions. But in the near term, it will just serve as a catch all for ideas and possible future topics.

Consider this to be the "coming soon" thread.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Oh - its you....

As Sun-tzu, a Chinese military strategist supposedly said, "keep your friends close - keep your enemies closer".

I've never thought too much of blogs as a means of communication. Blogs, from their "acronym", to their most typical usage have always struck me as the Internet, "dumbed down", or the web on 'ludes.

But if one is to understand them, and profit from them, then one has to embrace them.

Another quote I like: "Its better to light one candle than to curse the darkness". If my (ick) "blog" can in any way help further the global conversation, or even better, help me bring something good into someone else's life, then it will be worth it.

So.... what esoteric topics will you find here?

Politics. If you aren't involved in politics in the new millennium, you might want to check your pulse. Its not for everyone, but there isn't ANYONE that isn't directly affected by them. But, oh God, not another political blog! No, just occasional, hopefully rational, rants. Consider that more of a warning than marketing.

I enjoy computer games. I am especially fascinated with virtual worlds, such as Second Life and There.

I find online friendships and relationships powerful and fulfilling.

I write software for a living, and I am terribly fascinated with technology.

I have tons of non-digital interests. I'm sure some will filter through here eventually.

But MOSTLY... I love to "talk". The single greatest contribution the Internet has made is the exchange of information. A static web site can be a tremendous resource, but very few people have the depth of knowledge of one subject, or the copious time needed to maintain one.

On the other hand, we all have "nuggets" - precious little pieces of information that many people could profit from - if only we had a way to share them.

This is my attempt to share my "nuggets", from politics, to technical geek stuff, to whatever strikes my fancy.

As such it will be boring or interesting based on how closely your personal interests and mine intertwine.

Either way, I hope they intertwine often.

"Talk" to you soon!


(P.S. If you Google the title, its a line in the song "Time Warp" from the movie "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" - if I had to explain, I guess I'd say my blog is "just a jump to the left")