Friday, July 20, 2007

Secrets of Wishfarming, Part One

In this series, I'm going to let you, my loyal readers in on the secret sauce of Wishfarming. Yes . . . all 3 of my readers.

Of course I will not disclose all 11 secret herbs and spices required for this mystical process. That would be irresponsible, if not catastrophic -- in the wrong hands, they could produce all manner of disasters, like self-documenting toothpicks or possibly Silly Putty.

So without further ado...

Number 11 - The Metaverse is Not About Technology!

Seriously . . . duh.

Now, I'm a professional technologist -- tech pays my bills. I've sat in a room the size of a basketball court full of humming megacomputers, and you know what -- computers are boring as hell without humans to give them interesting things to do. It's a symbiosis of sorts.

This is all even more true in a virtual space, an entire computer-realized reality.

Many Second Life residents have come from the online gaming community. Myself, I came by way of the 'virtual reality' route. I have always been into ray tracing (POVRay, for example), 3D visualization and VR. I was once quite committed to VRML, but the obvious absence of that human element meant it never quite hit the mark.

Second Life was not the first virtual space I was familiar with, but it has a way of engaging people in a way that encourages strangers to work together.

A few hours in a sandbox would always lead to some bizarre new invention, cobbled from the work and guidance of near (or complete!) strangers. What a fascinating effect! The immediacy of the medium, along with the slight (optional) anonymity can lead to huge breakthroughs -- in personalities, in collaboration.

This is where Second Life's heart is! Avatars, sitting-around on the ground, collaborating on things, expanding their exposure to other people and ideas, and practicing life.

Yes, Second Life is life practice.

I am constantly telling people Second Life would still work even if it were Goraud-shaded, or isometric! Is the visual presentation of SL really that convincing? Most people fly about in the 3rd person anyways (I do). And yet, it's very immersive. But what has you so immersed is not the graphics -- it's the humanity of it!

Second Life could work without lots of technological voodoo. What it could never work without, is the Second Lifers.

When designing for Second Life, indulge the technology fetish at your peril. Remember how much fun has been had sitting-around on the dirt playing with colored blocks. ;)

Next in the series..."Snow Crash is Not a Bible"