Google Has Decided Its Latest Product Is YOU! (And How to Opt Out)

Did you know Google is about to sell your name and picture to advertisers targeting your friends? Yup. It’s all in Google’s new TOS.

The change in Google’s Terms of Service announced two days ago are right up there with Linden Lab’s recent TOS change allowing it to grab the rights to use and sell all the content you create in Second Life. Google’s new TOS take effect November 11.

Opt Out Here

If all of this sounds a bit like organized prostitution, go here now and opt out. [Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page to find the opt-out toggle box.] We’ve  got a month to complain before it takes effect, but our track record on changing Google’s mind is not impressive. Continue Reading “Google Has Decided Its Latest Product Is YOU! (And How to Opt Out)”

Fall is a Time-Spangled Graveyard


I like the season fall because it reminds me of what’s important. As the days get shorter, I remember how short life is, how valuable each day is, how I am living the glory days when people I love are with me. I know that the two things most important to me — that I am alive, and that I want to be alive–are more valuable than all the money in the world. I know a day comes to us all when any one of us would give everything—anything!–just to stay here a little longer. I call it fall because I don’t want to forget that we all fall one day, away from this life, away from everything we’ve ever known, and alone. As the leaves fall, I am reminded that everything and everyone I love will be taken from me, as well as life itself one day. And so I hold close the ones I love and tell them how much they mean to me. I do the things with them that I might wish I’d done if they were suddenly gone. As the red and golds grow bright, I remember that there is beauty even with death all around. And as I watch again my favorite video of all time, Dance in the Graveyards, I am reminded that it is possible to dance in joy even in a world where everyone either is, or will be, dead, no matter how much I love them or they love me, in a kind of time-spangled graveyard.

What will happen to your avatar when you die?

What happens to your avatar when you die?If you were to die – oh no, of course you won’t! – but if in some freakish turn of fate, you did – what would happen to your avatar? And all your virtual worldly assets? And who would inform your avatarian friends, and the very real human beings behind them? Death happens inside a single moment in physical life. Avatars, on the other hand, tend to linger. And grief – on both sides of that great Reality Divide between the virtual and the physical – it lingers, too. Continue Reading “What will happen to your avatar when you die?”

My youtube family asks the hard question: “We’re real, aren’t we?”

I’m about to take on a full-time job, so I gathered my Youtube family together tonight to talk it out. They’re the creatures I’ve created, loved, nurtured, given a home on my Second Living Youtube video channel. They’re worried I won’t have enough time for them anymore. I am too. Tears and lots of kleenex. I explained the realities of the real world to them, how I have to work, how hard it is to find work now, how glad I am to have found a “real” job. But I’m not sure they understand. “We’re real, aren’t we?” they asked. “What about us?”

Can you forgive yourself?

Easter Sunday. Today I am thinking about forgiveness. And I have to start with myself. Have you ever done something you wish in your heart of hearts you could take back? But in this life, we sometimes only get one chance. It’s true that sometimes we get a second chance to make it right with someone or something, but not always.

Sometimes there is only that one time. Maybe the action is over, and there is just no way to change it. Or maybe the person involved is no longer on the earth for you to contact and give an apology. Or maybe the person was a stranger, and you don’t know how to contact him or her. For whatever reason, you are stuck with what you did.

And you just can’t get back to where you were to make it right. The paths we walk in life are often long and complex, and as Robert Frost said,
“Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back . . .”
(The Road Not Taken)

On those occasions, and ever after, you have to find a way to forgive yourself. Otherwise you shrink and shrivel, and feel awful all the time. Self-forgiveness for me is a process of remorse – acknowledging to yourself and to your god, whoever he or she may be, what you have done. And then simply bow your head and pray, however you understand prayer. Maybe you ask for forgiveness. Or maybe you are just silent and still. Or maybe you talk to the person you wronged, even though they aren’t right in front of you.

Each time I do this I feel a wave of regret, full of emotion and thoughts and plain old upset, wash over me. It can be overwhelming, but it cleanses. And in the process you learn: you never want to do that thing again. You are truly sorry, and you affirm your reverence and respect for all lives.

And then, the key to it all for me, you let the wave roll away. Away. Just like wave do at the beach. Into the sea. You won’t forget probably, and you won’t change the past. But your heart will be lighter, and you will find yourself gradually capable of joy again.

“Timeline” keeping it real – sshhhhh!

Facebook’s new Timeline, like fb itself, is still keepin’ it real. The next chapter of social media history, embodied by Facebook’s new Timeline and Ticker, was announced earlier this week at the f8 (as in “fate” ) developers conference in San Fran — see the Zuck’s keynote here. Though negatively received at first (what isn’t?), changes will be coming to a Facebook page near you soon, in the next few weeks, with a target date of September 30 to begin rollout.

But what will it mean for those of us who are …  [sshhhhhh!] … on the pseudonymous side of reality? Will we use it at our peril? I think so. For pseudonymous avatars, the  Timeline presents an intriguing question: What exactly is our “life”? And how will we present it in the Timeline?

Continue Reading ““Timeline” keeping it real – sshhhhh!”

Why don’t we get to know each other before it’s too late?

It’s late at night, and I’m deep down. Two questions are bothering me. I don’t know their answers. And in my case, they’re related.

(1) Why is it when a difficult situation  arises in First Life, people leave Second Life? We’re talking a biggie here, like a health crisis, death of a loved one, dissolution of a longterm relationship, loss of a job.

(2) Why is it when we only know someone in the virtual form, we so rarely scratch the surface to really get to know that person–what gets them up in the morning, how they spend their time, and oh so very especially: what troubles them and bothers their sleep? I’m not talking about barging into the avie’s First Life–just really getting to know them as they are.

I’m so tired. But I had to get the questions out. If you ask them, answers come. Maybe even from you. Does anyone know?

Visualize building stories in Second Life!

My avatar is being recruited for a job! This happens from time to time in real life, but this is the first time my avatar has been approached by a job recruiter. An exciting milestone! And the ironic thing is that my atomic self really is looking for a job in real life .  .  . but it’s my avatar who gets the recruiter’s attention!

Believe it or not, these folks at Zeega are recruiting someone who can “hear story ideas.” I don’t believe I have ever seen that in a job description before. I was struck to see an employer articulate the process so concisely. This listening process is exactly what I try to do when I write poems and stories and make videos.

Attracting story ideas is the idea behind almost everything I do. It’s why I construct virtual poem parks in Second Life, why I built my little (virtual) blogging studio down by the koi pond at my (virtual) home (feel free to visit!), why I construct moody landscapes like this wintry one in Farley Crabgrass’s beautiful video A Second Life Winter’s Night, why I built the little interactive flower path in front of the Elf Circle library that gives out lines of a poem when you walk on it (visit it here), why I log into Second Life to do most of my writing, why I write this blog–why I have a second life at all. It’s all a virtual story stakeout!

Story ideas are such shy and skittish things, like wild birds, or butterflies, or deer. You have to sit still in the places that they frequent, have patience, and eventually the ideas will come. Build it . . . and they will come.

Continue Reading “Visualize building stories in Second Life!”

Live blogging Rod Humble vs what I’d love to hear

Update: For a list of all the recent SL closures, see Daniel Voyager’s tally here, and his updates here and here.


I’m listening to Rod Humble at the Second Life Community Convention. How depressing. How sad. If you want to listen to Rod word for word, here’s the replay. Otherwise, here’s my take.

It’s not that he is saying anything dismal; on the contrary he’s oh-so-upbeat and cheerful; there’s just so much that he ISN’T SAYING. Like what I’d really love to hear:

I am cut to the quick that we are losing more and more of the best creators and the best sims of Second Life every day. Let’s talk about what we can do about this. How can we keep the best of you here? Why are you leaving? What’s wrong? I care about each and every one of you. How can we change the pricing? How can we bring mesh in without destroying the old builders? What can we do about permissions to keep you here? Won’t you miss your community, your friends, the stores that have been our lifeblood for years? Maybe it’s inevitable. Sort of like leaving your hometown to travel the world(s). But you were born here. Doesn’t that matter?

No, no, none of that.

But hey, I’ll give Rod a chance. Maybe it will get better. He’s only been talking about 10 minutes now.

Continue Reading “Live blogging Rod Humble vs what I’d love to hear”

What if art had a child?


A postscript . . . Sharni Azalee, the creator of the “Love’s Eternal” 3D art pictured below, donated the L$5,000 prize she was awarded for the Curator’s Prize in the UWA June round to the Second Life Relay for Life event (which raised a record $371,670 in SL this year) for the American Cancer Society. Sharni sent me the LM to the location along the RFL track where the luminary lantern for her donation sat. I went there and sat beside it for a long time. It was so heartwarming to see Twinkle on another journey, this time to help fight cancer. Gazing down the endless line of luminaries along the RFL track made me feel like I was sitting beside a flowing river, and so I made this machinima: Hope Is Like a River. Another person who had a luminary lit for her along the track wrote to me later to say that as she watched, she couldn’t stop crying, tears of hope and happiness she said, and I wish the same for you.


What if art could reproduce? Not a copy of itself, but a future generation. An offspring who would take your breath away in how closely it resembles you, but totally different too, who is in its own right a unique masterpiece?

This has happened not just once, but twice, in recent time to my machinima Twinkle’s Journey which I submitted in the University of Western Australia MachinimUWAIII competition earlier this year.

Continue Reading “What if art had a child?”