Is the ‘Invasion’ of Real Life Architects and Architecture a Sad Chapter in the History of Second Life?
March 13, 2008, 5:13 pm
Filed under: rl architecture, society for virtual architecture

Does anyone remember the Society for Virtual Architecture? I sure do. I loved it. I was lucky enough to find my way to a meeting on my very first day in Second Life. I was in the midst of building this hideous replica of a real life project I was working on at the time, and the group took some time to check it out and critique it. I was blown away, and was immediately addicted to SL. It was social, it was collaborative, there were other people there who had valuable input and interesting projects of their own to show off. I attended every meeting I could, and dearly miss those lively architectural debates. I visited the Society hall this afternoon, and see that the chairs are still all disheveled, just the way we left them at the last meeting. Standing room only. Then we headed over to IBM on that fateful day.. . just before SVA meetings were suspended. =(

The group is still growing, albeit passively, and there is an asynchronous SVA meeting currently underway over on Prokofy’s blog Second Thoughts. He beats up on me quite a bit, but the post and the comment thread are well worth a read. Is the ‘invasion’ of real life architects and architecture a sad chapter in the history of Second Life? Is it going to get better, or worse? Is it OK to experiment with abstract architecture? Is there room for wiki-style collaboration in SL? What do we have to say about DB Bailey’s effort to ‘rethink the use of space’ in SL (article HERE).

Here is Prokofy’s post:

yeah, that’s Keystone in the foreground on my first day in SL, inside my first build. LOL!

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Why were the SVA meetings “suspended”?

Comment by Troy

Prok cites a number of reasons in his post, but I think it boils down to this:

“I also personally got too busy in RL and SL to have the time for the afternoon meetings that were essential for capturing people from various time zones.”

I can certainly relate to that – the same is true for the RL Architecture group. I sure hope he fires it up again soon, because there is a lot to talk about.

Comment by keystonesl

Keystone, I’m not sure why you have to show “empty chairs” or claim the chairs are “just the way we left them” (let that be the architectural statement you wish it to be — I don’t think it’s the case).

The last big meeting was one in which I had to suffer an enormous amount of harassment and heckling and second-guessing for a simple reason: I scheduled a speaker on a mainland sim that only holds 40 people, and it rapidly filled up. Instead of just accepting that you can’t always get what you want instantly, and accepting the already existing custom of the group to paste all the chat into the group so anyone could follow it anywhere, people harangued and attacked me. Of course, knowing it might be popular, I had already arranged a back-up, the IBM sim itself. But there were some subtle co-optation things going on there — it’s easier to talk in a more frank and intimate setting about the problems of corporate builds when you are not *immersed and sitting on that corporate build*.

But more practically, what happened is that I and the builder/speaker — Jessica Qin — decided to go to a place on the IBM corporate sims where there were *two sims* meeting, to accommodate (at that time) roughly 80 people (more than plenty for what we had, rather than going to the *four sims corner* which ALWAYS brought with it three huge problems: a) 96 m2 chat range meant that inevitably people at the edges didnt hear, and didn’t hear what some other audience speakers were saying, and that would get them mad b) people would sink through the build as they always do at sim corners; c) people would lag out at the 4 corners and crash.

To avoid those stupidities, which can be surmounted when you can take time to make a different build, use relays, etc. we opted to settle at the two sims. But several heckling, angry tekkies kept witheringly accusing me of not understanding how “best” to put on this event. They failed to see that *the builder herself* was a) limited in her ability to stay 100 percent there due to some RL pulls and b) also not wanting to put people on the 4-corner problem. Whatever. We ended up — just to shut up those hecklers — going to the 4 corners, and then having to put up with all the people bitching that they couldn’t hear, were sinking in, blah blah. The usual Second Life stuff. I go into this detail to let you know how form dictates function: a few people, with their know-it-all insistence on “the highest technical solution and the grandest architecture” were significantly hobbling and delaying a meeting that in fact could have taken place very differently if they weren’t so adamant about insisting on imposing what *they thought was* the latest “technical progress for meetings*. This was the hallmark of the corporate invasion, believe me.

And the corporate invasion isn’t even about corporations, who were clueless and stood around like gits in their newbie suits unable to find “appearance mode*. No, it was about a New Class of builders and scripters hired by these corporations, who — not even one generation out of the sticks themselves — were eager to appear “big city” to their new rich uncles. It was not attractive.

Anyway, as it happened, a job I got soon after that debacle hindered the schedule, but the few subsequent meetings I did weren’t as ambitious as to speakers, or were very informal, because I just wasn’t interesting in playing to the masses. That’s how it works now at these “revents” like Metanomics — it is so packaged, and people have so little input from the floor, and there is so much slick production — and lag — that it loses its “new media” and “social media” feel and becomes television. It’s even on SLCN. I don’t come to Second Life to watch television, Keystone.

Again, I go into detail, because the medium becomes the message here.

The discussion on my blog is very interesting and I urge people to participate. Given that people often only pay attention to such summaries, you’re misportraying my position here:

1. Once again, you make it seem that by my critique of wikitecture and wikis in general, that I’m somehow unwilling to “make room for experimentation in Second Life”. Dusan Writer also went down that road, when I wrote of him as “thumbucking” about some architecture” — because he assumed that if you *criticism* some form of modern architecture you must be a hopeless Suburban Babbitt who can’t bear the look of a modern line and has to have Tudor and Cape Cod everywhere.

I’m merely calling — as my with critique of game and world design and the discussion about Bartle — for PLURALISM and an openness to approach. When you get a criticism, you immediately race to the battle stations and imagine that this is a call to IMPOSE a view on yourself, to say “No wikitecture! No real life architects!” But…you already overrun the space. The conversation about building is all about wikitecture now, nothing else. It’s all about corporate and real-life builds — and nothing else. I only wish to fight for the space to include inworld building as virtual archicture, my God, if THAT cannot be architecture, and must be relegated to the realm of making hovels for furries and making bad Goth replica castles, then what do we have here? Virtuality only getting to be defined by high-minded *realism*? Realism which in fact invades the real of real life with its abstract virtuality of pure ideology!

Philip Rosedale would say you can’t invade a space that grows at this rate, that is more than 16,000 sims that you can’t even *see* in one 24 hour session, the rate is so fast. His theory is that corporations can never be seen to be invading, because there’s always one more sim to where you can go and find that pristine virtuality you seek, if you don’t like some corporate aesthetic or somebody’s too-fussy and rigid modernism.

But obviously, sims, while they may seem like easily renewable resources to the Lindens, are scarce resources to us. They cost money to buy and maintain. The attention economy is the real scarce resource. So somebody who comes in pre-loaded with Annenberg set-aside, funding, press attention, connections, etc. has such a high jump into the attention economy that, well…what can you do? Isn’t a little pushback in order?

Comment by Prokofy Neva

nice post .. the pics as game photos but ok
thanks Keystone

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