Law of Drama

Law of Drama

We, all of us, are a messy mix of virtue and vice. But virtual worlds may lead us to see people through black or white filters. Instead of character flaws, we see demons. Every human being has some goodness inside them. Somewhere. But in the virtual world, we become convinced that we are utterly just, and the other side is mired in evil (or at least incompetence). We do not see our opponents as they are: flawed humans, as imperfect as we are ourselves.

There certainly are people and situations that deserve righteous anger: those who hurt for the sport of it; deceivers and exploiters; and those who engage in destructive behavior and thoughtless self-indulgence that causes harm.

But it seems to me that too many people are addicted to the primitive thrill of drama. They seem to hunger for the battle-lust of explosive anger, or the conspicuous display of woundedness from having been wronged. I won’t deny it: both the anger and the woundedness can feel very satisfying–especially because it seems so clean, when we can’t see the effect of our words in the facial expressions of our target. When we see them only in black and white. When we do not see them as whole, imperfect people.

Speaking for myself, drama bores me. It also makes me a little nauseous. It feeds on emotional energy and I have none to spare. Life is too short to waste one minute of it on such nonsense. My instinct is simply to ignore it, mentally flipping the channel.

I cannot stop anyone from trying to hurt me. I cannot control the behavior of others. I can only control my own. I try to do no harm. If someone claims to have been harmed by me, I try to embrace self-honesty and humility, always allowing for the possibility, however remote, that I might be wrong, and that I might learn something from my opponent. If I have done wrong, I swallow my pride and apologize.

I do believe in standing up for one’s strong convictions. I am not a member of the spineless school of can’t-we-all-just-get-along. If someone is harming me, I will do what is necessary to stop it—which usually means simply walking away. In most cases, fighting back stops nothing. It only prolongs it. If I choose to participate in their negativity, I give it power. If I turn my back on it, it has no power over me. I just turn away, without saying a word… and without giving any ground. I have no time or energy to waste on this crap.

Even when I have been hurt, I resist the temptation to demonize my opponents. As difficult as it might be to imagine, I do my best to assume that they are people of good will, trying their best, as I am, to live lives of integrity. They may be damaged (as I am) or lacking in communication skills (as I am). Their action may have been thoughtless, or misguided. If so, then striking back would solve nothing.

I do not engage in vengeance or payback. I treat everyone with compassion, whether they deserve it or not. When you do a small kindness for someone who hates you, they might spit in your face. But sometimes, a compassionate act, even a small one, is infinitely more powerful than an angry one.

And when I have been hurt, I resist the temptation to wallow in my woundedness. All that usually accomplishes is prolonging the pain and spreading it to innocent bystanders. If someone hurt me intentionally, broadcasting my pain would only encourage them. If the hurt was unintentional, the flaunting of bloodied bandages accomplishes nothing, and risks making me look ridiculous. I know how to cope with my feelings in an adult manner, and then let them go.

At all times, I listen, with an open heart, to the words of others, and to their fear, their wounds, their hopes and desires. I listen for the good in them. And I have never yet failed to find it.

 

This was written originally about political debate. I am republishing it by request in a shorter form.

Perceptions in the virtual world

I am continually amazed by how differently people experience the virtual world.

I don’t just mean the surface things like what types of activities and styles people enjoy, whether or not they like to roleplay, or their level of interest in relationships. I am speaking of fundamental differences in the way people perceive the virtual world, and what they value about it. The differences can be so striking that two people may be left staring at each other agape with incomprehension.

I recall the first time I encountered this divergence, when I mentioned my admiration of the builder Painter Meriman’s Craftsman style bungalow, his painstaking attention to the authentic details of the style and his skill with textures and composition. He had displayed it in a street scene, complete with lawn and sprinkler, sidewalk, driveway, fire hydrant, period automobile, and other subtle touches. “It feels so real!” I gushed. “You think you are in a 1920’s suburban neighborhood.” My friend’s face fell. “Oh,” she said. “I’m not interested in things that feel real. That is so boring.” I was very surprised. Her reaction woke me up to the fact that not everyone values what I value.

Recently, another dear friend illustrated the vast differences in our experience of the virtual world when he thought it would be fun to decorate an ancient Roman plaza with a big net that dropped poppable colored balloons all over the ground. I had worked hard to fine-tune the color palette of the plaza so that everything blended harmoniously, and had focused on building within the authenticity of the style. The beauty of the finished product gave me great pleasure, and to me that was worth the work. But the addition of colored balloons completely drained away any joy I felt in the scene, both because they were inauthentic (I can’t be certain but I suspect ancient Romans didn’t go in for balloon drops) and thus made it impossible for my imagination to immerse in the scene, and because the bright colors conflicted in every way with the color palette I had so carefully designed. It was as if I had painted a painting in pastels, and someone thought it would be fun to throw a vat of tomato sauce onto it. Not that I have anything against tomato sauce, but it would kind of ruin the painting, right?

And yet, the same situation looks very different through my friend’s eyes. He is all about fun and play. He loves fantasy and pretending. My friend is an iconoclast, and gets a charge out of turning things upside down just to see what happens. If we both were standing in front of a row of buttons, I would methodically press one at a time to see what each one does—but he would press all of them at once, and if it blew up as a result, it would delight him. For him, my careful attention to authenticity and color feels unpleasantly confining. He does not understand why beauty and style are important to me. He hates it. He yearns to break free of the chains of style, and splatter balloons and paint everywhere. That, for him, is a source of pleasure. The balloons that made my joy evaporate were the balloons that made his joy possible.

Although I found this incident unsettling, it was a good education for me. In the virtual world I have always been drawn to designers and artists. Because, like most people, I tend to hang out with people who are like me, it is easy to forget that not everyone is like me. When encountering someone whose perceptions and values are very different from mine, I go through a kind of progression of understanding, starting with “I don’t get that at all,” then advancing to “I guess I get where he’s coming from, but it’s not for me.”

The danger against which I must constantly guard is that I might be tempted to continue that progression too far, and end up saying, “His point of view is different, and it is wrong / of no value / inferior.” There may be a few things in this life about which such an absolute statement could have merit. But I don’t think that any of them apply in the way we experience the virtual world. There is a difference between saying that you don’t like something, and saying that it is intrinsically bad. Is one way better than another? Is one way right, or wrong? I doubt it. Even if I don’t like them, I do find the differences intriguing.

Have you ever encountered someone who sees the virtual world in a fundamentally different way? How did you react?

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Top Quality Creators Who License for Other Grids

In my last post I discussed new opportunities for Opensimulator builders to obtain high-quality textures and sculpts from SL artists who are willing to license their products for Opensimulator virtual worlds.

In this post, I’d like to applaud some of the cooperating artists. Below I have listed some of Second Life’s top creators of high-end textures and/or sculpts who offer “other grid” licenses. I encourage you to support these artists by buying their products, so that they will be encouraged to continue to support OpenSim builders and help us improve the quality of our life here.

Note that in some cases, their products are sold only in SL or on the SL Marketplace, so you would need a Second Life account to receive delivery of the product or to contact the artist. Even if you are not currently active in Second Life, you might consider keeping an account there just for this purpose. One of my friends thinks of it like this: he lives in the suburbs, and occasionally visits the big city for a shopping trip!

TOP QUALITY CREATORS OF TEXTURES AND SCULPTS WHO LICENSE FOR OTHER GRIDS

Please suggest any other premium content creators you’ve worked with who license for Opensimulator.

Studio Skye – Alex Bader. Alex has just started making his outstanding textures available for download from his website. No Second Life account needed. http://www.studio-skye.com

Primmersive Designworks / E&D Engineering – Eryn Republic, Texture Engineer. Excellent, hyper-realistic textures, emphasis on postmodern, dystopian, industrial. Custom design available. Contact them for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/21145  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

TRU Textures Ltd. – LillyBeth Filth (Elizabeth Gallagher) Extensive selection of quality textures available for download from website. No Second Life account needed. http://www.texturesrus.net/

Anthonys Republic. High quality sculpts. Choose between one-time license covering all products, or pay as you go. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/22444 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Twisted Thorn Textures – Nighty Goodspeed. Only a small selection available on Marketplace; see SL in-world store for much more. Choose between one-time other-grid license covering all products, or pay as you go. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/5019 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Door and Texture Store – VonGklugelstein Alter. Really useful materials for creating buildings. Contact VonGklugelstein Alter in SL for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/21912  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Panther 3D – Adaarye Shikami. Some textures available in SL at Twisted Thorn. Contact Adaarye Shikami for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/9149  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Jubjubs Stuff – Jubjub Forder. Several highly useful sculpts. Contact Jubjub Forder for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/15290  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Svo Michalak. Very nice sculpts of useful landscaping, food, tools and assorted other objects. He told me once that other-grid licensing is assumed for all his products however I would suggest that you contact him yourself to make sure. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/18128  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

FUD – Happyholly Grigges. Some good trees and other items. Contact Happyholly Grigges for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/8976 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

CFD Cloud Factory Designs – Areku Shirakawa. Furniture sculpts. Contact Areku Shirakawa for licensing info.  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/15366 (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

FLECHA – Flecha Warwillow. Contact Flecha Warwillow for licensing info.  https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/52128  (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

S.Town Sculpties – CrashOV Uladstron. Contact CrashOV Uladstron for licensing info. https://marketplace.secondlife.com/stores/39126   (Second Life account required to receive delivery)

Please suggest any other premium content creators you’ve worked with who license for Opensimulator.

Bringing High End Textures to Opensim

The fact that everything is free in many Opensimulator grids may feel like a refreshing change for those who came from Second Life, where capitalism reigns. No money! No economy! Content creators freely share what they make. Take everything you want – it’s free!

On the other hand, it also presents a challenge for builders, especially those for whom quality is important. Most suppliers of high-end building materials in Second Life – textures and sculpts especially – are professional graphic artists who make a living at content creation. Not many of them are willing to provide materials for use in Opensim. They are, understandably, reluctant to give their livelihood away in a grid where they can’t easily be reimbursed. Without their supplies, quality materials are not plentiful.

Thus, Opensim builders typically have been faced with difficult choices. We can try to rely on whatever freebies are available here, which can be hit or miss. A few builders, sadly, simply steal materials. Others do their best to learn to make their own original textures, sculpts, scripts and animations, and while that’s probably the best solution, the learning curve can be extremely overwhelming.

However, there is another option. As OpenSim based grids like OSgrid grow in popularity, more and more creators of high-end building materials are willing to license their textures and sculpts for use on other grids, not just the commercial grids like Second Life, Avination or Inworldz. If you want the best quality, and if you are willing to pay a few pennies for it, you now have a lot more options.

We would like to thank these pioneering content creators for their willingness to support OSgrid builders. In my next post, I list their names and URLs. I hope that all OSgrid builders who value quality will support their businesses, as they support us by enriching our world.

We want to encourage high-end content creators to continue providing great textures and sculpts for use in Opensimulator. Support goes both ways. If we expect them to support us, we must be willing to return the favor – by buying their products, and also by treating them with respect:

  • PLEASE respect licensing agreements. If the license says you don’t have permission to export building materials to other grids, don’t do it, no matter how much you want the item.
  • It is NEVER okay to give away purchased textures. It is okay to share things you made with the textures, but not the textures themselves. Do not pass textures to friends. Do not share textures.
  • When you use a purchased texture, do not give out your creation with full permissions. Make it no-transfer or no-copy. If you need to make something that is both copy and transfer, use only building materials whose creator clearly intended them to be freely shared.
  • If you have permission to export a texture to Opensim, do not re-import the texture into Second Life. This is the main transgression that stops most content creators from supporting Opensim. Also, if you make something in Opensim using a purchased texture or sculpt map, and import that item into Second Life. replace the texture or sculpt with the purchased version that shows the original artist as the creator.

If you don’t respect licensing agreements, you are only hurting yourself. Every time you use a texture or sculpt without permission, you make it less likely that high-quality textures and sculpts will continue to be available for to Opensim. Maybe you don’t want them; but when you don’t respect licensing agreements, you help to close off the supply to other builders who do want them. So please respect your fellow builders as well as the content creators whose work enriches our virtual world.

Victorian store: a Painted Lady

I decided to try Victorian…! We wanted to make our new shopping area reminiscent of New Hope, PA and other small towns where the original Victorian houses have been converted to funky, eclectic shops. I made most of them fairly simple, but on this one, I got inspired to go full tilt. As they say, if you stood still for 5 minutes, the Victorians would try to decorate you… so the last thing a Victorian house should be is simple!

It’s loaded with highly detailed authentic features, including a wraparound porch, turret tower, sculpted balustrades and spandrels, fretwork, decorative shingles and “Stick” detail. The interior was painstakingly textured to match the Victorian styling. The double hung windows even work!

I took my inspiration from various Queen Anne style houses in New England, and the famous “Painted Ladies” of San Francisco. I had a lot of fun researching the style, and planning the materials.

This is one of those “only in OpenSim” builds at 985 prims (no problem, we’ve got plenty more). A residential version will be forthcoming soon, with authentically styled interior. I might try to do a somewhat less primmy version for SL.

The store is offered rent-free. Land ownership is included, also free. We want to encourage content creators to share their creations with our residents by offering them free space to do it. If you’d like to move in, contact Walter Balazic or Camryn Darkstone inworld in OSgrid.

Come see it on the Littlefield NE sim in OSgrid.

See more of Littlefield at our Flickr page.

Intentional Stupidity

I fail to understand why anyone would choose to make themselves look stupid by griefing.

As a method of making a point, griefing is inefficient. It has no effect whatever. It doesn’t affect the target. It has no emotional impact. It doesn’t persuade anyone to change their opinion.

Well, that’s not precisely true. It does persuade people that the griefer is an idiot. And in fact it usually persuades people to have sympathy for the party who was griefed. It makes the victim look better, and turns public opinion in their favor, and against the griefer and his or her point of view. So unless the griefer’s intent was to look childish and stupid, it actually has the opposite effect from what was intended.

It’s not just bad judgment — it’s negative judgment. It is as if the griefer tried to think of the worst possible choice, and said to him or herself, yes, I’ll do that.

One of our friends had a small griefing incident at Littlefield. It was not a big deal. What the griefer must have thought was damage was easily undone. No one panicked, no one had their feelings hurt; it was more boring than anything else. But it gave me a moment to wonder why anyone would intentionally choose to make themselves look stupid by griefing. If your point of view is so weak that this is the only way you can think of to express it, you might consider just letting it go, and preserve at least the appearance of intelligence.

In Remembrance 9/11

9/11 memorial in Littlefield

To commemorate the 10th anniversary of September 11, 2001 I built this replica of the 9/11 Memorial in NYC that opened today.

Members of the Littlefield community gathered here at 8:46 a.m. to be with each other, and remember and reflect together.

9/11 memorial in Littlefield

Death is not extinguishing the light.
It is putting out the lamp
because the dawn has come.

–Tagore