Friday, May 16, 2008

Second Life at the Art Center Design Conference

Philip Rosedale was a kid who read a lot, got into electronics, then computers, and was obsessed with making things. Wood, electronic—it didn't matter. He thought it would be good to have his bedroom door go up, instead of swing inward. So he cut through the ceiling joists, installed a garage door hoist.... He sees Second Life as a way for people to do things they want to do but may not have the opportunity to. Why do we dream of going into space? It's the illusion that you can begin again. Leave life as you know it behind; transform yourself (ah... but will you be able to do that? or will you find your old self wherever you go?).

Rosedale questions: Why is the impulse to create in Second Life not utopian? Is a virtual world likely to be a utopia? The web is profoundly bottom up. There is a fundamental freedom at the level of the individual. Utopia is top down.

Rosedale comments that there is a lack of cultural fine tuning in Second Life. I notice that, as his slides cycle through, there is a profound ugliness about many of them (not the image at the top, but for example this one, immediately above. I'm just sayin'...). In a future post I will talk about what this reminds me of—the uneasiness that designers have with the awkward creations of non-designers. Shiver. (Or... the sheer exuberance of unbridled enthusiasm exhibited at events like the Maker Faire. I want my Muffin car!) 

The internet is disturbing like electricity was, but it's impossible to ignore. A huge disruptive change that we can't get away from.

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