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 Chatlog by Little Cupid

Diverse session that will explore various topics related to the sociolgoy and anthropology of virtual worlds.  
Hosted by the S/A SIG of the Consortium with serveral group members presenting their current work.

taylor: the group started last year at the avatars conference and we've been holding
taylor: periodic reading groups online as well as a ongoing email list
E N Z O: taylor is Dr Janet a speaker?
taylor: yeap, janet levalley is one of our speakers today
E N Z O: let me set her up as a citizen
taylor: reed riner, an anthropologist, will be here as well
taylor: ah, great enzo. thanks :)
taylor: can i just maybe get a "show of hands" how many of our regular group members are here today?
Kilesa: <raising wing> [well, I'm a lurker on the group]
taylor: <g> show of hands being like a yes or something <g>
boeing admin: Well, I'm a lurker.  :)  Haven't had much time to read it lately.
taylor: <nods and smiles>
paulix: <raising dreddlock>
taylor: while janet is getting set up, let me just intro the session
taylor: several group members will be presenting their work and then we can just have a general discussion
taylor: oh, a couple folks are asking about the group...
taylor: check out for more info
taylor: maybe i will just give my quick spiel while janet is getting set up <g>
taylor: the topic of my very brief talk will be on digital materiality
taylor: i've recently been spending a lot of time thinking about the question of materiality inworld...
taylor: offline we often think of flesh and bone as making up the materiality of our coporeal bodies...
taylor: but online i would suggest that these things come to be replaced by code. by software
taylor: we need to begin to give serious consideration to the ways design and software structure and inform the
taylor: materiality of our lives online.
taylor: what kinds of functionalities, capacities, possibilities are embedded in code
taylor: even before the arrival of users
taylor: it's been interesting for me to be looking at moo code, in particular player classes
taylor: and doing comparisons with some graphical spaces
taylor: looking at the kinds of things, the assumptions about idenitity and community, built into the software
taylor: so, from the get go, even before users arrive and do many creative, engaging things, there are parameters of embodiment laid out
taylor: yes janet?
taylor: i'll pause there for any questions actually
taylor: did anyone have questions so far?
Little Cupid: LOL - too many
taylor: <lol>
taylor: i hear ya. feel free to dive in though. discussion is better than me rambling <g>
Zeke: sounds very interesting Taylor !!
Little Cupid: Okays  ;-)))
taylor: <smiles thanks>
Zeke: please continue !!  *S*
taylor: oh, okay <g>
taylor: anyway, i actually wanted to just present this as a general issue to be raised. to be thinking about
Zeke: can I start a point of discussion then ??
taylor: forms of materiality in online life. we generally consider it, or it is better put that it is generally spoken of,
taylor: as disembodied  immaterial minds
taylor: what i'm proposing is that one component to an understanding of embodiment online
taylor: is understanding and unpacking (through looking at code and talking to designers) the ways
taylor: materiality can operate in digital space
taylor: okay, i think i will stop there and open the floor for discussion
Zeke: Taylor ... do you think that the avatar should be personalizable ... since it represents us ??
Little Cupid: Hmmmm, I like that Zeke  ;-)))
taylor: do you mean more along the lines of customizability zeke?
Zeke: and maybe ... the avatar should be portable from world to world ...
Uldor: that would be nice Zeke
taylor: well, i definitely think users feel greater connection and affinity to an av they have customized
Zeke: well ... right now you can CHOOSE an avatar ... but you can't BE an avatar of your own making ... 
see what I mean ??
taylor: the portability question is fascinating and that was a vision a few years ago
taylor: but i think that has dropped off some
taylor: it's interesting zeke, if you broaden our definition of ve's to include muds (which i do) the range becomes much greater
taylor: and there are some graphical spaces that allow users to design their own
Zeke: I know in my own world ... Mystery ... that conferring an avatar of my visitor's choice was one of the most 
requested things
Haba: what about information linked to avatars? not just the 3d body
Haba: bodies that is...
taylor: ah, like what kind of info haba?
taylor: there is that function in some worlds. urls. taglines. etc. it's a fascinating idea
Haba: umm, hobbies :) err...anything
taylor: but, one thing, getting back to building your own av... some folks simply don't feel they have the skill to do that...
Haba: in blaxxun ccpro
taylor: or don't have the tools too. i think that means that when worlds operate with library systems they have to be
Zeke: well ... I am just saying that if a citizen has greater control over the presentation of the avatar they use, such as customization ... it makes the experience much more personalized
taylor: very thoughtful about exactly what kinda of embodiment possibilities they thus include
taylor: yeah, having known interests is a fascinating idea. do we do that offline in any ways?
Uldor: a custom av would have to be put on a server somewhere too
E N Z O: we are writing the code for Custom avs in AW
taylor: i'm always kind of interested in running a comparison that way
Zeke: cool Enzo !!
E N Z O: then everyone can have whatever they like... inside a few parameters
Little Cupid: Kewl ENZO!
taylor: enzo - what are the tools folks will use to create those avs?
E N Z O: and world owners can dictate the use
Rolu: What about choosing different body parts - head, legs, etc - from a library?
Uldor: that would be easier Rolu
Haba: and of course custom sounds for avatars :)
taylor: yeah, the library model has some things that really have to be considered
E N Z O: There is a plugin being written for Truespace
Zeke: yes ... do for avatars what the WONDERFUL interface in the AW browser did for building in general ??
E N Z O: they will have a low priced AW bundle that outputs into RWX
taylor: [to enzo] do you expect most users will be able to create their own easily? are we talking gestures and all?
E N Z O: probly around 30 bucks
taylor: <would love to have directed speech here btw <g>
taylor: and emotes! <g>
Uldor: what will be the rules of a custom av though?  size? offensive material ?
Zeke: now THIS is really sounding COOL !!
E N Z O: and Lifeforms is working with them to provide an animation plugin
taylor: i think the vision of users creating there own stuff is very exciting
Rolu: animations can be in a library too.
E N Z O: was on the phone with both Seng from Credo and Terry from TS
taylor: i do wonder about tools though
E N Z O: there is also an av maker from cof
Totoro: We don't understand all the constraints of our real world emobiment. Is vr embodiment simpler to understand? 
Or is it real world + vr, and therefor more complex?
Zeke: well ... if the tools are simply "objects" that a world could cache ... or even just access from a common URL ... that could work !!
taylor: it's a great question totoro
Rolu: create your own avatar - by picking the right parts and coresponding textures, colours and animations.
taylor: i think you are dead on in saying offline embodiment is quite complex
taylor: i think we haven't yet taken that into full account when thinking about online forms
Zeke: Enzo ... please tell us more about the av maker from COF ...
Uldor: yeah, is it freeware ?   hehehe
Little Cupid: It's 60.00?
setebos: additionally, there is the question of what are we?  our bodies or our ideas?
paulix: taylor: can you say more about 'digital materiality'... what do you mean by materiality? are there avatars that matter?
Rolu: I think that vr is parallel to rl
setebos: an avatar displaying our ideas might be more appropriate for some - more 'real' to who they are.
E N Z O: hopefully we can release it soon
Rolu: it is both less and more.
taylor: hmm, what do you mean by "matter" paulix?
Haba: btw, Enzo. May I ask when are you going to make the aw "sound system" better? :)
E N Z O: roland is working on MP3
paulix: that was my q. to u :-)
E N Z O: :)
taylor: <lol> ah
Zeke: well taylor, I know that it makes a difference when we use the wrong "sex" of avatar ... so avs DO make a difference !!
Mauz: stick to agenda Haba! :p
Haba: I'm talking about aw's own mixer
taylor: <g> good point zeke
Rolu: MP3? Hey I like that news :-)
taylor: paulix, yeah, i do think there is a materiality to an av
Zeke: and I know that some people even want to make sure they have the right hair color in their av ... LOL
taylor: i think it is a product of code and design. the stuff you can kind of "touch"
paulix: how is that in the code or coding?
taylor: also, there is a materiality created via social space
Little Cupid: LOL - true Zeke
taylor: i think that is key in embodiment
taylor: <g>
Uldor: I've spent alot of time picking out the right av for me in some worlds
taylor: yep. folks are very invested, and understandly so, in making their avatar "feel right"
Zeke: I think people want their avatar to represent them in the VW in the best possible RW light they can !!
taylor: hmm, it's an interesting question. i think some folks go for direct mirroring, some go for "best list" some go for totally different
Haba: I think that doesn't mean best way physically
taylor: though, what i always hear in interviews is that your avatar in some ways always has a life of its own
taylor: that is "gets away" from you at times
Uldor: <---- totally different av
Zeke: yes ... but I think most of all ... people want their avatar to match their "personality" ...
Little Cupid: I try and choose the shortest av's  *grin*
selda: has a life of it's own??
E N Z O: welllll... there will be implementation of direct 3d soon
taylor: though, personality isn't a static thing, especially for many folks once they get inworld
Uldor: hehehe Cupid
Zeke: Taylor ... that is soooo true !!
E N Z O: (meaning in a year or so...)
taylor: <g>
taylor: so many interesting threads. i want to make sure janet gets a chance to speak
E N Z O: and that would allow a better mixer
taylor: because she has some interesting things to say on this subject
taylor: janet, are you here?
taylor: and ready to speak? :)
Zeke: So ... since people's personalities are not static ... it makes sense for people to be able to customize their avatars to match the changes they are going through
Haba: ok, enzo :)
E N Z O: direct sound
taylor: good point zeke. and also the ways our avs "create" experiences for us
Little Cupid: Hey kewl Zeke!
Uldor: hmmmm facial expressions for avs ?
Rolu: I like to have the birde and the bike avatar.
Kilesa: I like the bird too cuz it can fly  :)
Zeke: I know this much ... the avatar we choose ... decides to a large extent how others will interact with us ...
Rolu: however, I am not really a bird :-)
taylor: great point zeke!
Rolu: but I like the flying idea.
Uldor: You're not Rolu ?
Rolu: that's why I chose bird.
Zeke: cool Rolu !
Haba: you hear, Mauz? :)
taylor: the body is a key component in how we construct identity and how we engage in social space - just like offline! <g>
Zeke: AW offers such an incredible number of possiblities for expression and interaction ...
paulix: an it becomes a 'body' through our social interaction... :-)
Rolu: I'm not a bird, I'm a cray-3 running an AI program... but don't tell anyone!! :-)
Zeke: It seems to me ... that the avatar in it's current form has hardly been researched and developed !!
taylor: hmm, interesting point paulix.
paulix: let's not get too essentialist... <G>

Immigration Officer: Dr. Drs. Jan A.W. de Bruin of the Tilburg
University will be appearing in the 'BOWorld' soon, for a discussion
about the use of Virtual Worlds for providing information to future

Zeke: I don't think there is anything more personal to a person involved in VR than the avatar they are using ...
Haba: I don't think the virtual body is very important yet. In this kin of conversation you just keep reading the text, not watching the 3d picture.
taylor: the only thing i would suggest paulix is that we can't say it is just th social, but also the interaction with the possibilities laid out in advance of the users arrival
taylor: someone earlier raised the point about the body not being really  important here yet
taylor: and i think that is interesting because i confess i've been paying attention to the text mostly..
taylor: but for me that is more a product of this particular software and not the space itself
paulix: these 'bodies' jitter and fuss too much :-)  OUT OF CONTROL
Haba: I think voice chat makes the avatar more important
taylor: for example, in a text-based world i can embody much more via gestures and emoting
taylor: <lol> paulix

Immigration Officer: Richard Wojcik of Boeing speaking in Pod 4 in 6 minutes

paulix: but in text, that isn't in the code
taylor: sorry paulix? can you repeat
paulix: you example of text MUDs - the gesturing and body is in the language, not the code, eh?
Uldor: the big appeal of this world to me is it's flexible avs

Immigration Officer: The boeing speech by Richard Wojcik has been moved to the Boeing world

Haba: when it is silent, like now, it's nice to watch avatars and see what they are doing, though :)
taylor: ah, i follow now paulix
Little Cupid: LOL haba
taylor: actually, player classes contain code that allows them to engage in speech and gesturs
taylor: so, that is seen as a crucial component of any body in that space
taylor: sorry, i was distracted by the offline event here <g> i'm really working in split worlds <g>
paulix: i dn't know much abut MUDs... i don't disagree... just need examles and defns
taylor: ah, gotcha
taylor: well for example,t here is a certain range of functionality built into these avs
taylor: and through that functionality, a range of embodiment possibilities to some degree
paulix: true... but that functionality only comes to 'mean' something
through social interaction.
selda: yes, but don't users compensate with language?
paulix: Avies keep looking at their watches, but we ignore it...
taylor: yes, i agree with you to a very large degree paulix. the rooting in social is key
Uldor: I pay more attention to the chat screen emotes than I do to the graphical behavior of the avs
taylor: yeah,t he compensation question is fascinating. but is there a dissonance by doing <smiles and waves> in a graphical space?
Uldor: if someone just enters GZ and starts waving no one will even pay attention to them until they actually type hello
Little Cupid: So true Uldor!
selda: true!
taylor: ah, but that isn't the case in other spaces
Mauz: you can harass people by moving your av on their face... :)
paulix: aren't _Worlds Away's gesturing and actions more integrated into community life?
taylor: if you are in a mud for example and gesture you are likely to be noticed. in much the same way as if you were offline
Uldor: but that may be just because of the way the chat screen is arranged in this browser
taylor: anad that is true for worlds away too... yep paulix :)
Haba: aren't muds text based?
taylor: good point uldor. this is where i think the design question profoundly affects interaction/embodiment


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