Yosemite (Extended version, Director’s cut)

24Oct06

** This article was published in an edited form in the Second Life Herald. **

** Here is the extended version, Director’s cut. **

 

SL Yosemite Valley

I recently asked a random cross-section of SL residents how they describe Second Life to friends and family.

“I don’t,” said Emma Hartmann in Sistiana.

In Midnight City, Chaylon Voss tells me, “[I show] them [Second Life] and the things you can do in it, then I tell them of it it’s something I enjoy and there are lots of opportunities here too, to make money, etc., if you seek them. Learn to animate, or design clothing, or build. And it’s a damn sight better than hanging out every night in some bar, but not necessarily less expensive unless you are wise.”

On Info Island, Inda Graf says, “well actually funny you asked that. I’m a gamer and a librarian, and because of that lots of people ask me about [SL]. I play other online games – not Second Life normally – and I just tell them it’s a social networking tool with more things to waste money on. But there are a lot of questions about it from people who [don’t participate in] online social networks…a real desire to understand.”

I say Second Life is a place where there is no food required. No rent. No death. No taxes. No cutting the grass. No picking the kids up from school. No commuting. No fee. Free.

All of these descriptions, however precise, are not actually very descriptive. In the real world, of course, Second Life does cost something. At a minimum, SL residents must have a decent computer and high-speed internet access. These requirements are, however, like the family car – conveyances rather than destinations. And you need a car to get to both Disneyland and to Yosemite National Park. But only one of those places is free (well it used to be – more on this later). So here is my arguably over-stretched analogous leap. SL is the Yosemite of the 21st Century.

When the park was created in 1890, Yosemite Valley was a pristine wilderness. A natural architecture on which could be transposed any number of futures.

Today, it is choked with traffic and over 3 million clueless tourists. Many of those visitors pass on through, never to return, leaving with only fleeting glimpse of that vast place. Some stay. They build businesses and provide services. They teach and explore. They litter. (It is also full of very furry bears, but that’s another story.)

It had its champion once too. John Muir spent much of his life advocating for the creation and protection of this wonderful place. He fought long after to preserve and expand the protection if afforded.

His final battle, to save the nearby Hetch Hetchy Valley from the devastating effects of the O’Shaughnessy Dam on the Toulumne River (designed to provide a water reservoir for the city of San Francisco.) was lost in 1913, when the bill permitting the construction of the dam was signed into law by US President Woodrow Wilson. John Muir died the following year.

John Muir

Is Second Life being steered by John Muir or Woodrow Wilson? Are the pressures of the modern outweighing the traditions of the old? Is Second Life destined to become a mélange of slack-jawed yokels in meta-Reeboks, or the glistening jewel in a crown of ‘verses?

Philip Linden

Maybe it is just easier to follow the lead of resident Tony Lee when describing Second Life. “Like most folks, [I] call it a game.”

And oh yeah, Yosemite ain’t free anymore.

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One Response to “Yosemite (Extended version, Director’s cut)”

  1. i’ve tried so many times to explain SL to people that don’t know what it is. thru trial and error, long explanations, analogies, drawings and hand movements, i now just say one of two things to them, dependent on their access to the internet and/or net savvyness.

    1. it’s like a 3d internet

    2. go and try it for yourself and then tell me what you think it is.


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