Jan 30, 2009

SLebrity Update: I'm a Loser - Not!!!

Leominster PR, a fictitious company that exists more as an aspiration than an application, appears to be treading water with its "SLebrity" campaign. It seems that Google hits for the word have jumped from my baseline measure of 2,730 to a spectacular 2,630!

Eagle-eyed pedants might want to point out that 2630 is 10 less that 2730, and I suppose, after reviewing the data and taking all things into consideration, a case could be made for saying that the number has gone down.

But mathematics has little to do with marketing, and the campaign for SLebrity ubiquity is not necessarily about the number.

A recent post on SL Revolution by paraliptic SLebrity Prad Prathivi, not only whined against the existence of the word but went on to use it FIVE times. Hurrah for pride!! The word then made its way into a number of comments - and shamelessly I contributed - which should add significantly to the Google's count.

The post is so recent that the minor hiccup in the current 2630 figure should be corrected fairly shortly. Hence my unflagging faith in the increased use of SLebrity during 2009.

Jan 29, 2009

Life On Line Goes Live: Virtual TV for the Virtual World

Social networks, games, shopping, dating, music, news and much more. Life On Line, a TV show about internet living.

Life-On-Line ...... Spread the word!

Starting February 15th 2008, this TV talk show is about how we spend our lives online - how we stay in touch, how we work and play, how we are entertained and informed. Life On Line visits virtual worlds and social networks. We showcase exciting new talent in music, movies and literature.

LOL is the brainchild of journalist Steve Cropper. According to Steve, Life On Line "seeks to go deeper into how people use their online time for news and entertainment, creativity, love, friendship, business, shopping, work or any other reason. We also scan the internet for emerging new talent - musicians, movie makers, writers, bloggers - anyone who is contributing to the richness of digital life."

And starting today, you can watch Life On Line from this site, simply by clicking the video box to the left of this article.

Here's the team that brings you Life On Line:

Host - Steve Cropper
Music - Space Junky
News - Sigmund Leominster
Social Networks - Andrew Peters
'Shrink' - Dr Roman Candle
Voice - Kayden O'Connell

The news slot is a summary of more detailed items that can be found at my SL on VL site. Here you can read the news in detail, find links to source material, and check out other virtual world news.

Jan 26, 2009

On The Road In Real Life

I know it's heresy, but for the next few days I'll be logging on to real life for extended periods of time. Of course, I am a little worried that this may lead to something called Real Life Addiction, or RLA as it is known amongst Second Life therapists.

This is a syndrome that is becoming increasingly widespread in Second Life despite the fact the many people want to deny its existence. Seemingly happy avatars are spending more and more time in Real Life, seduced by its false realism and ease of access. Sufferers are choosing to forgo normal things like teleporting to mermaid-infested seas or adding new slaves to their harem, and turning to things like shopping for groceries, eating food, and even having sex using their genitals. Apparently, there is an enormous amount of sex going on in Real Life, some of it too disgusting to contemplate!

You can help.

Talk to your friends and see if they exhibit any of the following behaviors:

1. Do they fail to log in between their local hours of 8:00 am to 5:00 pm? This may be because they have something called "a job," which keeps them away from normal Second Life activity.

2. Do they log off at around their local time of 11:00 pm? This is indicative of their doing something called "sleeping." This is a dangerous condition where they lie down for hours and fall into unconsciousness. They are very vulnerable in this state and could easily be injured.

3. Do the say things like, "I need to log off for an hour but I'll be back." This could be an excuse to "eat," a behavior that involves putting things in their mouths and swallowing. (Note: this is a by-product of the "shopping for groceries: behavior.)

4. Do they say things like "My girlfriend/boyfriend is here" and then poof away. If you cannot see them on your Friends list, it's possible they are having a relationship in Real Life! This is very worrisome because it can lead to sex - and this can become very addictive, leading, in extreme cases, to individuals abandoning Second Life altogether and becoming lost forever.

If you suspect your friend of any of these, please make sure you help them through their crisis. Take them shopping. Go to a club. Offer sex. Buy them a primmy baby. Send them to this blog. Do whatever you have to do in order to bring them back to their senses and focus on unreality.

There's no doubt that a little Real Life can be harmless. After all, it's just a game. The trick is to balance Real Life with Second Life rather than chose one over the other. But just be aware that Real Life is out there; that is can be very seductive; and that you are not alone.

I need to log off for a few hours but I will be back.

Jan 24, 2009

Linden Lab as Metaverse Central Bank?

I frequently tell people that although 95% of what I speculate upon turns out to be wrong or stupid - or both - 5% has some value. For example, earlier this week, I set out to my colleagues at work a plan to make life on earth less stressful based on changing the earth's gravity. The plan was to establish an international drilling agency that would position deep-drilling wells all over the earth with the sole intention of removing as much of the earth's core as possible. By then shooting all this off into space, we could reduce the mass of the earth, thereby reducing the gravitational field, therefore making everything easier to do.

Although this is logically sound and, given the will, technologically feasible, it probably ends up in the 95% option.

So as a way of trying to get myself back into the 5%, I thought I'd re-post a comment I made in the Second Life Herald two days ago. It relates to the recent acquisition of XStreet and OnRez by Linden Lab:

“Although not an avowed aim of Linden Lab, I note that this move to have more control over the handing of a virtual economy might well be a marketable asset to other virtual worlds. Sticking my neck out a little further, LL may well be positioning itself to operate as a virtual ‘Central Bank.’

“Imagine you have created a new virtual world and want to encourage commerce (which is also the same as saying ‘want to make a profit yourself’). What if you could have all the financial transactions handled by a third-party, to whom you pay a percentage on transactions. That would have to be worth thinking about.

“Banking is simply a business like any other. As more virtual worlds appear, they all need to consider how to handle commercial exchange. Rather than have idiosyncratic currencies, imagine having a single currency. That's a nice thing. You might not call it the Linden but whatever it is called, I’d sure like to be the one making it all happen and taking 0.1% of all transactions.

“And if I'd like that, you can bet Linden Lab would too.”

Jan 23, 2009

Linden Lab's Acquistion: It's Good

Can I buck the trend here and make the case for why Linden Lab's acquisition of XStreet and OnRez is not the End-Of-The-World-As-We-Know-It? Again.

Having held off blogging anything about the purchase so that I could get a feel for how people are responding, I'm unable to hold back any longer. It seems that everyone and his dog has spilt blood over this so it's my turn to open my veins.

Before starting on the essay (Oh yes, there will be ink!) let me just toss out a perspective that may serve to frame my comments.

The Psychology
It’s a curious phenomenon that many of the people who are involved with Second Life become tremendously emotionally vested in all aspects of its operation. There is an almost religious fervor generated when LL does something - as if the Olympians had decided to interfere, once again, in the affairs of mortals. You only need to stop over at the officially Linden forums to sample the raw passion and violence of the average Second Lifer. And this is no "Dear Sir, do you think you could...?" environment; this is bloodbath of epic proportions. It's a serious vampire fest.

But there are two things that stand out like nipples in a wet shirt in Alaska - Linden Lab is a very open company and it is perceived as being hopelessly decadent. Like End Times prophets, the scribbling banshees of the forum and the blogs scream about the impending death of Second Life over and over again. And like the End Times prognosticators, does the continued existence of Second Life change their minds? Hell no! Maybe the grid didn't close its doors today, but tomorrow... just you wait and see!

Linden Lab release so much information about what they are doing to their customers that I am stunned anyone has the time to keep up with it. You'd actually learn less about the company if you were to have an actual desk there! They are - whatever people believe - a privately-owned company and have no legal need to release as many details as they do. None. When they go public (oh yes, there will be shares!) it'll be different. I bet they'll clam up!

This glut of information encourages a feeding frenzy. Pundits and Prophets circle the boat waiting for a piece of information to flop into the water where they can tear it apart, word by bloody word, to satiate their bloated egos.

And it is always bad news. Always. Even good news is bad news because bad news is better. Bads news sells. Bad news feeds the soul and anger makes people happy.

Price changes? Bad. Policy change? Bad. Free accounts? bad. Paid accounts? Bad? Growth by acquisition? Bad. See what I mean.

There is NO company on the planet that is perfect. Everyone fucks up and Linden Lab is no different. But I suggest that the emotional ties that are almost engrained in many SL residents means that they (a) feel they own the company and (b) are unable to objectively handle change - good or bad.

That's why the XStreet/OnRez acquisition is causing so much chatter: many folks can't be objective about it. So let me move on to the business of Business.

The Acquisition
The over-arching aim of SL is for Linden Lab to make money, and if a small number of others can profit from the platform, then that’s great. Of course, in order to do this you have to offer a product that people want and that can be sustainable. But from the business perspective, you have to satisfy the big shareholders.

Individual customers are NOT shareholders. I read sometimes in blogs and comments that "we own part of the company," but "we" don't. The money you send to LL for tier fees or whatever do not buy you a piece of the company; they buy you the right to use the product - Second Life. The feeling of entitlement in SL residents appears to be very strong - much stronger than for other companies. I drive a Jeep but don't feel I own a piece of Chrysler. I eat Heinz baked beans but don't expect a dividend check every year. I bought Bret Easton Ellis's Lunar Park but I can't call him up with an outline for the next novel I want him to write for me.

So when LL make a business decision as a corporate entity, they have a duty to their shareholders, the venture capitalists who put money into the business, and not directly to their customers.

I know, some of you are thinking that this is preposterous and wrong: the customer is King, always right, and the whole point of doing business, yes?

Er, well... no! Scary as it seems, few of any of us do something for nothing. We want a paycheck. But, you scream, I give freely of my time to the local soup kitchen, and I don't get paid for that. No, you don't. But the only reason you have the spare time to do that is because you have a job that pays you enough to HAVE spare time. Without the job that pays you cash, you'd be back at the soup kitchen - but on the other side of the counter.

Enough. I've bludgeoned this dead horse into a bloody pulp. The point is that LL can acquire just about who the hell they can afford without having the permission of customers. Period.

And it's not like we didn't know this sort of thing was on the agenda. When Mark Kingdon took over the helm at LL last year, one of things he pledged to do was to expand the company. When you have venture capital cash to spend, one of the fastest ways to grow is through acquisitions. If the figures are correct - and there is no reason to assume they are not - SL residents traded $360 million in virtual goods and it doesn’t take a Warren Buffet to see that snagging a percentage of that is a good thing!

But, you may be wondering, if XStreet and OnRez were so profitable, why did they sell to LL? Well, individually, the margins for each company may suck, but the margins for the two - along with some savings (for “savings” read “redundancies”) - may be much better. You can buy two or three under-performing companies and combine the best bits to make one good enterprise.

Another reason for selling may be that the respective companies need to raise capital for other ventures they want to pursue; ones that they feel are more profitable. So you sell your assets and use the cash generated to buy your new stuff. Happens all the time.

The second point, therefore, is that acquisition of related companies is a good move. There is risk involved, but then again that's part of doing business. If you want a risk-free job, good luck with that!

Phew, Possibly my longest blog posting in Second Life. I try to limit longer tracts to articles for which I get paid! Hey, an avatar has to make a living, right - and I am not the right sort of material for the model/stripper/escort/sex industry.

The majority of other posts currently being tossed around are pretty negative, but it's much harder to find a sober assessment because for the Second Life blogging pundits, the affect clouds the analysis.

Jan 22, 2009

The Second Life Friends List: We Need A Scale

Whoever designed the Friends list was clearly a computer geek and not a psychologist. Why? Because it uses binary logic. A person is either on the list or off. You're either a friend or not a friend. See, a binary model; a zero or a one.

Relationships are much more complicated than that. There are nuances and flavors of friendship ranging from "I think I remember you vaguely from when I was a noob" to "will you have my prim babies." What we really needed is a tagged Friends list: a list that allows for sub-categories of "friend."

Here's my first stab at a taxonomy.

Contacts: These are folks who are on your list because there's a better-than-one-in-a-hundred chance you may want to contact them sometime before you quit Second Life but you're not quite sure. You have talked to them at least once and they seemed, at one time, vaguely interesting. They are the sort of people that you would drop in exchange for a pair of Bax Coen shoes, Stiletto Moody boots, or a night out with Mimmi Boa, Miss SL Universe 2009.

Colleagues: They are on your list because you have some sort of job in Second Life and these folks help you do well at it. OK, so maybe this category seems a little utilitarian or mercenary, but anyone who doesn't have this category in real life is either a liar or naive.

Friends: These are the people you actually choose to be with and have fun. You use IM with them extensively and see them at least once a month. Friends are people you share some personal details with. You might even mention them in your Picks or on your blog.

Fuck Buddies: OK, I admit that this one does pander a little to the sensational, and may well get picked up by the world at large as yet another example of how Second Life is positively squirming with sex. But it isn't an obligatory category. It's reserved for "Friends with Benefits." A fuck buddy lets you test out your Xcite equipment and will use your favorite pose balls and Stroker Serpentine goodies.

Confidantes: These are people to whom you will share your dark secrets and trust them not to run to the authorities or a psychoanalyst. A confidante can disagree with you without fear of being muted - an action best used on assholes who refuse to shut up. Your Confidantes list should be in single digits and maybe countable on one hand.

The One: For some people, there is going to be a need for a special category of one. This is reserved for a special person who is a colleague, friend, fuck buddy, and confidante all rolled into one. Oh, and it should be a reciprocal category - your One should have you as their One. Otherwise you ought seriously to consider demoting them to friend or fuck buddy.

So there you have it: a new taxonomy of Second Life friendships. I suppose I could open a JIRA with the suggestion of a tagged Friends list, but I'm basically idle. Rest assured, though, that if you are on my Friend list, you are also sub-categorized too.

And no, I won't tell you which. Unless you're The One, in which case you already know!

Jan 20, 2009

Why So We Do It? Why?

This morning, I responded to a comment on an article in the Second Life Herald entitled January Issues Continue - Concurrent Users Drop to 29,797. And here's the snippet of wisdom from a poster by the name of lol core:

“Second Life is the only game (shut up it's a game ok), that has tons and tons of issues every day. And it’s (sic) player base willingly puts up with it. I guess it’s become part of the gameplay now.”

So here is my response:

“I did a quick (i.e. methodologically suspect) trawl (not troll) through a random selection of posting here at the Herald and estimated that if we removed ALL references to negative comments about the Second Life experience, the Second Life Herald would become the Second Life Monthly - abridged.

“It IS part of the gameplay, and a stunningly critical one. In all my in-world interactions this weekend I can guarantee that the topics of logging in (flaky), TPs (sporadic), and transactions (scary!) were high on the social agenda.

“Which reminds me of the movie Bedazzled (1967) with Peter Cook and Dudley Moore (superior to the 2000 re-make with Brendan Fraser, except for the deliciously erotic Liz Hurley as the type of Satan to whom I would willingly sell my soul) where Cook, as the devil, sits atop a London postbox and says to Moore, ‘Pretend I'm God and now dance around me and sing my praises.’ After a few seconds, Moore says ‘I’m getting tired can we switch places?’ to which Cook replies ‘That's exactly what I said!’

“If heaven is indeed perfection, then I don’t want to go. And the same is true of Second Life. I suggest that the imperfections and pains of the virtual existence is - and here’s where I’m being controversial - part of what people need. Remember the old joke; ‘Doctor, My head hurts every time I bang it against the wall’ - ‘Well stop doing that.’

“Here we all are, banging our heads against a virtual wall and saying, "Please sir, can I have another one.’ The answer is so simple - leave, for God’s sake, leave, before it’s too late! - that it is patently and obviously absurd for anyone to stay.

“Yet stay we do. Second Life is an existentialist nightmare; a virtual Theater of the Absurd where there is no point, no purpose, no guiding spirit, just a stooping, slumbering mass of egocentric misfits trapped in a world of their own choosing. I know. I am one of them.

“The rants and raves of disgruntled pundits are nothing more than the omphaloskeptic ramblings of the disenchanted moths who still can't turn away from the flame, and who subconsciously seek to be burned because the pain is the only thing left to remind them of their angst-ridden humanity. And as the stench of scorched insects fills the metaverse, people continue to hurtle into Second Life immolation regardless of the anger, anguish, and anxiety it causes them.

“And still they come.”

Jan 18, 2009

The Second Life Press and the Paradox of Choice

Setting up a blog is easy. Very easy. It's so easy that some individuals end up creating more blogs than actual blog postings. That being said, it is no surprise that the number of Second Life-related blogs appears to outnumber the number of residents who actually inhabit the virtual world.

Here's a wonderful quote from an article by Bruce Arnold of Caslon Analytics:

"Several studies indicate that most blogs are abandoned soon after creation (with 60% to 80% abandoned within one month, depending on whose figures you choose to believe) and that few are regularly updated.

"The 'average blog' thus has the lifespan of a fruit-fly. One cruel reader of this page commented that the average blog also has the intelligence of a fly."

Keeping up with Second Life activities via the blogs is now impossible. And my that I mean no-one can read and comment on these unless that is their life's work. The problem is that the proliferation of information has created an unfeasible amount of choice. In the world of data, there really is such a thing as "too much!"

Barry Schwarz wrote The Paradox of Choice: Why More Is Less back in 2004, but it is as true today as it was then. He uses the phrase "the tyranny of choice" to describe the phenomenon whereby too many options creates anxiety and paralysis: We can't decide.

The ease of creating a blog is now being paralleled by the ease of creating an online magazine. Sites such as Issuu and Scribd make is relatively simple to become your own publisher, an opportunity not lost on some Second Life residents.

For freelancers such as yours truly, there is now another paradox of choice: for which should I be aiming to write? And how much time could/should I spend researching this?

Clearly I want those that (a) pay well, (b) are read by many, and (c) suit my writing desires. The potential for longevity is probably also important - although if someones goes out of business, as long as they have paid my bill for the most recent article I guess I needn't worry. Mercenary, but true.

With so many choices of reading material for the Second Life resident, how can anyone make a decision on how to spend their time? And more importantly, how much time does anyone have to do this?

So what to do, what to so? So many choices, so little time. Sigh.

Jan 17, 2009

Learning to Take Pictures With Seikatsu Koba

I tell people repeatedly that I am not a photographer. I pretty convinced that my photography gene is recessive, if not completely excised from my DNA. Yet in my role as wandering hack, I often have to provide some visual support to my text. I could, of course, hire a real photographer, but that then eats into my profits. So I spend a little more time trying to get good pictures.

With the fashion pieces, it's fairly common for me to actually buy things and wear them before commenting on them. For illustration, I can either take pics of the items in the store or of me wearing them. Doubtless the latter option panders to my not-so-unconscious narcissism, but its also a good use of me as a resource - a sort of movable clothes hanger.

So to improve my skills, I asked my friend and photographer extraordinaire, Seikatsu Koba, where I could get so simple pose balls for modeling (yeah, I hear you snickering; "Oh, see, there goes Siggy wanting to be a model after all.) Instead, she gave me an afternoon of free tutoring in how to take a picture.

What she really wanted me to learn was how to angle my camera and manipulate light. And the latter was an eye-opening for me. I didn't realise that I could change the settings of the world so as to capitalize on different lighting possibilities. Using the "Environment Editor in the "World" settings, I could select from a whole list of preset lighting settings, and even manipulate within them. You do this my moving the sun!

The results of the tutorial are on my Flickr site as Seik's Tutorial. If you want to see some of the ways on which I learned how to manipulate angles and light, click the link to go take a peek.

Jan 16, 2009

Alphamale Article Published

After spending far too much on clothing from Alphamale, I did what any other Second Life hack would do - make up a story. In the world of fashion, the cool thing is that you don't have to make too many things up provided (a) the stuff is good and (b) you can take some photos. I suppose I could have tried to get a return-on-investment by entering the Alphamale Search competition - but I couldn't work up the enthusiasm.

So just before Christmas, I got myself into "Male Model Mode" and spent an hour looking at my oiled, muscular body in the mirror before having sex with my own alt. Just kidding... it was only half an hour.

I did spend some time at a snow-covered romantic log cabin on a wintery sim, which gave me the opportunity to wear a number of sweater-and-coat-based outfits and the opportunity to spend time with a rather attractive blonde avatar who shall remain nameless, enigmatic, and add a sense of mystery to this piece.

Four of the outfits can be seen on my Flickr pages - a resource I have had for many months but haven't used for the same amount of time. This year I'm going to try to add some of the fashion pics from the articles I write. Either that or steal some from someone else.

The article and pictures are now available in this month's edition of FreeLife Magazine (Issue 32), which is also a collector's edition. After this issue, FreeLife will no longer be available as a PDF magazine but a web-based blog, which I sort of like. For the time being, it'll still be update once or twice a month, but hopefully at a later stage the editors will allow me the luxury of daily blogging - sort of like what I do hear but (a) on fashion and (b) for money. My blogs are free, but anything else I write has a price tag ;)

I'm thinking of writing a "shoe-off" between the ankle boots from Bax Coen and Stiletto Moody. I love the Coen boots (hi Miss Bonde!) but the Moody's look pretty damn cool too. Lucky I'm a guy and don't have to make a choice - because I wouldn't make a choice; I'd buy both.

Check out the Alphamale piece, even of you're not a dude - maybe you can take your guy shopping!

Seven Reasons Why Prim Babies Are Better Than Real Babies

I don't understand why people have prim babies. Mind you, I don't understand why real people have real babies. Sure, I know HOW - but not WHY. And of all the real-life behaviors to carry over into Second Life, having babies strikes me as one of the lower priority ones.

However, if there's one thing, I can't stand it's intolerance. Oh, and someone using a preposition to end a sentence with. So I sat down with a large cup of tea, a medium-sized pencil, and a small doll with a removable head, and wrote down the seven top reasons why prim babies are better than real ones.

7. Short pregnancy. None of this nine-months of looking like a small planetoid shit, but a six-eight week gestation period and - plop! - there it is.

6. Pain free. I'm sure that for most women in real life, there's nothing more satisfying than feeling every little kick, each retching stomach, and every insertion of the needle during the post-birth episiotomy. But in Second Life, you can get by with second best and skip the pleasure of pain

5. Choice of gender - or even species. Misogynists and misandrists alike can avoid the need for abortion if the fetus turns out to be the wrong sex. No need to suffocate girls or dump baby boys on Mt. Tayegatus.

4. Optional skins and faces. Many real babies have faces that look like a deformed toad sucking a lemon. Of course, social etiquette demands we should make no mention of this, avoid throwing up, and not suggest the name of a good plastic surgeon. With primmy babies, your little bundle of joy can be as pretty as you can afford.

3. De-scriptable. Although primmy babies make demands of their parents, such behavior is scripted and a right click will let you go in and rip out the little squawker's programing for good. Less risk of child abuse. With a real life baby, you have to use duct tape to keep them quiet.

2. They fit nicely in your inventory. In RL, there are times you want to pawn your brat off with someone else or flush it down a toilet. Doing the latter is typically frowned upon so is rarely a recommended option. However, as SL babies are cute little bundles of prims, they can be treated like any other object and popped back in the inventory any time you like. Sweet!

1. De-rezzable. For most of we real parents, having to wait 20+ years to get the little horrors off our hands, out of our houses, and away from our bank accounts, is a soul-destroying, morale-crushing brutal slog that makes us yearn for death or a lobotomy. But primmy babies can be dropped in the trash can without suffering the wrath of child services or an expensive law suit.

It would seem that neither the drugs nor the sensitivity training is working out for me.

Jan 15, 2009

Media Merger in Second Life: SL Enquirer and Toll Entertainment

In an exclusive interview with Tammy Toll, the owner of the Toll Entertainment empire, she revealed that she and Lanai Jarrico, proprietor of the SL Enquirer, have merged to form Spotlight Entertainment. Although the individual businesses will continue as before, Toll and Jarrico will join forces to marker and promote musicians in Second Life.

With SL Enquirer's press penetration and Toll's expertise in streaming audio and event planning, the aim is to provide residents with more opportunities to enjoy live music from the many artistes now playing in-world.

The partnership will officially start next week and more details of Spotlight Entertainment will be forthcoming.

Jan 14, 2009

Sixteen Random Facts About Siggy You May Not Know

A serendipitous virtual encounter with Moggs Oceanlane ended in my adding her blog to my list of "places to visit when I'm feeling like avoiding real work." She issued a Plurk challenge to "Post your RL pic and 16 random facts about your person."

Well, an appeal to my ego always works simply because;

1. I am far more shallow than I may seem. The concept of "depth" doesn't apply. If I appear to be deep in thought about, say, the vicissitudes of the Manichean heresy against the backdrop of postmodern revisionism, I'm actually more likely to be thinking of large breasted women. Naked.

Having addressed the first random fact, here are the rest:

2. I firmly believe that shit happens; that shit happens all the time; that shit happens to everyone; and that shit always happens with a vengeance. This is so true that when anyone asks you any question, simply answering with the word "shit" is going to work 99% of the time. (Q: "Hey, Sig, how are you feeling" A: "Shit.")

3. I'm absolutely sure that Chaos is the natural order of things. This is a corollary of 2, and the only way to explain the perversity of the universe. In a vain, pointless attempt to dissuade us from committing suicide, Mother Nature ensured that our brains are wired to assume that there is order and purpose in our existence. This, however, is shit. Order and purpose are pure illusions - only there to stop us from (a) realizing that life is meaningless and (b) sticking our heads down toilets and repeatedly flushing until we drown.

4. I always buy belts so they fasten on the third hole.

5. I prefer the window seat on a plane. That way if there is an horrendous crash, I can at least see it rather than sit wondering what the fuck is happening.

6. Like all men, I am driven by the desire for three things: Sex, Food, and Money. And money is just a way of getting to food and sex. And I'd rather have sex than steak.

7. My cute British accent is only cute if you are not British. Otherwise I don't actually have an accent.

8. I have taken a piss out of the door of a moving locomotive while traveling at 70 miles per hour. I'm not necessarily proud of that but I was (a) drunk, (b) young, and (c) unable to find sex, food, or money on the train.

9. My "stripper name" would be Candy Levant. For those who don't know, your stripper name is (a) the name of your first pet and (b) the name of the first street on which you lived.

10. I have been officially reprimanded by guards at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Prado Museum in Madrid, and the South Australian Museum in Adelaide; each time for nothing worse than trying to take photos. I failed to get ejected from the National Palace Museum in Taipei so my "Bad Boy of Culture" status is waning.

11. I actually helped oust the Taiwanese President
Chen Shui-bian by taking part in a protest in 2006. This wasn't a political choice but I wanted the cool T-shirt the people were all wearing, and once I'd bought the shirt, people came up to me, shaking my hand, hugging me, and taking pictures! Once I was recognized as "an international protester" supporting the People, I couldn't just walk away so ended up on the front line waving my fist with all the other protesters. I still have the cool T-shirt but Chen Shui-ban doesn't have his job.

12. When I was 14-years-old, I made money at my old school by selling pornography from the Tuck Shop. It was an all-boys Catholic Grammar School (those who went to such an establishment know what I mean) and so there was a demand for porn that I felt I could meet. A friend would steal the porn from a newsagents and I would then sell it. Capitalism at its finest, I think.

13. My three favorite books are The Metamorphoses by Ovid, Zorba the Greek by Nikos Kazantzakis, and The Magus by John Fowles. I have many other "favorites" but these are the ones I re-read at least annually. I actually travel with Ovid (the title of my yet-to-be-written book - Traveling With Ovid.)

14. When terrorists crashed into the twin towers on September 11th, 2001, I was stranded in South Beach, Miami, FL. Stranded. I had to stay there for three days, trapped by the beach, stuck in the bars, and forced to eat out at expensive restaurants. Shit happens - but sometimes your shit isn't as bad as other people's shit.

15. I can go from being outrageously arrogant to irritatingly depressed. This, of course, is fairly normal for human beings but I mention it because I like to feel normal.

16. My favorite fruit is the banana. It looks good, tastes good, and has a really really cool name. In fact, I suspect banana is one of my favorite words. Well, that and sex, food, and money.

So there you have it: Sixteen glimpses into the soul of an avatar. Now go away and make your own list and remember to send me the link. Hey, I'll show you mine if you show me yours!

Jan 12, 2009

Another Dormant Second Life Press Organ?

The glossy Second Life-orientated magazine, Altamoda, appears to be taking a rest. The last issue of the Ewing Fashion Agency's glam mag appeared in July 2008, with editor Sienna Fredriksson signing off her editorial with "see you again in one month." She didn't say which month was the one though.

SLNN is still exactly as it was two months ago and no reply has yet arrived from editor, Garret Bakalava. The Metaverse Tribune is still very quiet, with just the automatic feeds changing on a daily basis. I know the Trib is potentially still a player because I was offered the editorship and am still wondering whether or not I can do it. Still, I did get an article in there on January 7th - it just didn't make the front page ;(

The Looking Glass Magazine has now officially gone offline. Only last week I stopped by and it was still accessible, all be it closed, but now you can't even get any of the back articles. I guess I can now take it off my bookmark list.

There's a new fashion mag in the offing - shh, no names no pack drill - and FreeLife goes blog this month. As yet, the final PDF version has not been published, which is a shame because I have an article in their about Alphamale, a copy of which I promised Belle Lefevre; and I hate to break promises.

I'd love to do an annual State of the Press report but methinks that would be tough. On the other hand, maybe some ad hoc pieces here on the blog would be OK. Like this one ;)

Jan 11, 2009

SLebrity and Trademarking

I heard from Robustus Hax of MBC. The name SLebrity had been considered but there may be some Linden Lab involvement in the show, which may cause problems. Why? Because the word SLebrity is clearly a portmanteau of SL and celebrity, and the SL element is trademarked. There may be a case for LL to go up against MBC because of this.

I say "maybe" because you can't trademark a word, only a mark. The word slebrity (no upper case for the first two letters) exists outside of the Second Life universe. For example, on May 11th, 2006, a blog post appeared entitled SLEBRITY SPOTTING, with the words in a caps font.

So the word slebrity cannot be trademarked retrospectively, although maybe SLebrity can. I'm certainly not going to consult my real life patent attorneys on this - and those of you who have such people working for you know the cost involved! - but from what I know of past work with them, I bet slebrity is OK but SLebrity is not: The former predates Linden Lab's annoucement in 2008 about branding and the latter is obviously SL related.

I may have some challenges of my own at some stage. My name, Sigmund Leominster, is mine, and mine alone. My initials happen to be SL. My blog, SL on SL is a gray area, but I have it as SL© on SL™ because the first SL is my intials, and I can copyright these, but the second is an abbreviation for Second Life, for which I use the obligatory ™ marking.

My friend Seikatsu Koba is working on a logo for me. I think it should be fun to see what happens if his starts appearing in the Second Life press!

I Want To Be A Celebrity; Or A SLebrity

Either I am ahead of the curve or one step behind. I'm certainly not slouch when it comes to starting a post with a mixed metaphor.

Metaverse TV have announced a new program, I Want To Be A Celebrity. I could kick myself repeatedly for missing the opportunity to promote the use of SLebrity here, especially since I do some work for MBC! Here is the danger when you live outside the loops. Clearly the folks at MBC have been working on this but I'm not in the Inner Circle so didn't know.

Maybe it is not too late. My next step is to alert the good folks at MBC that SLebrity is better - especially for search engines.

Stay posted; I'll let you know how it goes

Jan 10, 2009

Should I Stay Or Should I Go?

I noticed lately that whenever I log on to Second Life, no-one IMs me until I have IMed them. the must see me log on but clearly don't have anything to say to me. What does that tell me?

OK, so if I analyze a little more, I do have IMs waiting from one or two people, but I still feel a little like a ghost. My friend list is, as I have said before, relatively small, but I thought it was selective. However, it turns out that I am deluding myself. My SL footprint is smaller than I trick myself into believing.

Maybe this is not unusual. Maybe the majority of folks in SL wear small shoes. I don't know. I also know that when I click on my Google Alerts for "Second Life," I find many many blogs with no comments - the spectral writings of more virtual world phantoms.

So the question is; should I stay or should I go? If I left, would there be any impact? Sadly, I believe not. Yet if I stay, will there be any impact? Again, I fear not. Perhaps for 99% of people, our Second Life existence "don't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world."

I need time to think.

Jan 6, 2009

New Blazer and Scarf

I wanted a new striped blazer, preferably in red and green narrow stripes, or possible yellow and black. I stopped off at Emery and found no such blazer but I did find a great yellow plaid scarf.

I went to Xtreet SL online to find a blazer - the Vintage Tennis Blazer by Young Urban. It isn't ideal - there could be more stripes, particularly on the arms - and I'm not over-thrilled by the hem, which would have been better as a skirt perhaps. However, the built-in shirt and tie is nice, with the tie being a classic club stripe.

So here I am looking as if I'm about to step onboard my yacht. Except that I don't have one and I'm not really a sailing type, RL or SL. Still, I like it overall.

Pants and shoes are Redgrave - art by J.W. Waterhouse. If you ever want to see my art collection, just ask.

Jan 5, 2009

Queen Media, Kinji Lockjaw, and a TV Show

Actress and model, Kinji Lockjaw, is set to revive her Queen Media venture. Her plan is to start a TV Chat show this year. I'm all for this because she asked me to be a guest. Well slap me with a fresh haddock and call me Shirley! Any exposure is good exposure as far as I am concerned, especially if it promotes me and edges me ever closer to SLebrity status (see, I'm using the word!)

And sh0uld you happen to read this one, Kinji, I still suggest you get that glorious red dress from Mami Jewell's Azul store - it's upstairs ;)

"Straight Talk from SL"

Yesterday I had a chat with my friend MTD1952 Timeless. He's one of the many stylish gay guys in Second Life. In fact, my guess is that the majority of fashion-orientated guys in Second Life are gay. And if this is the case, then I have a niche - the Straight Male Fashionista!

MTD writes for Ammon Pera's InV Daily, a lifestyle blog that is read by many. He suggested I contact Ammon to sign up as a writer. Mmmh. Recognizing that InV is gay-orientated, I proferred the column title, Straight Talk from SL, which clearly plays on the "straightness" angle and has the bi-readable "SL" for Second Life and Sigmund Leominster.

So, keep an eye on InV to see if I appear at some point.

Who Do I Have To Fuck?

After a year of blogging, the number of people who actually read my stuff appears to be so small that there is talk of a new word being used in Physics - the Sig, which is defined as "a number so small that current technology has no way of measuring it, and which makes zero fucking huge."

Of course, I'm willing to accept that what I write is crap and unreadable, but then again so is 99% of what passes for blogging. It may also be that I am tragically useless as self promotion, missing all the important parties and not shouting load enough to tell folks how truly wonderful I am. Or maybe it is the opposite - people don't like me because I tell them how truly wonderful I am.

What to do, what to do.

I know that I don't have a blog roll. This seems to be the usual way of cross promoting; a mutual appreciation society whereby I scratch your blog, you scratch mine. But then nobody - and I can quantify the "nobody" as being at least 3 sigs - has every asked me to do any cross-linking, so I can only assume that (a) no-one is reading, or (b) nobody is interested.

That said, should I stop the blog? After all, if I spent the time I blog freely writing things I get paid for (thank you, at least, to all of you who hand over lindens for my efforts!) then I'd at least have more money, even if I have no blog readers.

I will go on the promotion offensive. This does NOT include taking my clothes of for the Herald, taking up escorting, or becoming a male model - although the later does appeal to my shallow ego. No, I'll just work a little harder at convincing people that I can... well, do something that is interesting!

Oh, and the other possibility: shorter but more frequent blogs. Some bloggers write maybe a couple of lines, toss in a picture, and call it a blog. they do that five times in a day and folks seem to love it. Must be something to do with short attention spans.

On that basis, this blog is too long. It's over. Move on to my next one - please!

Jan 3, 2009

Second Life SLebrity - Word of the Year 2009

I try to keep my real life very separate from my Second Life experience. That way I have a virtual clean slate - you judge me on what you discover about Sigmund Leominster and what he does. The minute I say "as a policeman in real life," "as minister in real life" or any permutation of "as a in real life," you begin to judge and make assumptions, either consciously or subconsciously.

However, I'm not too worried about saying "as a linguist in real life" because that's a phrase most folks will either misunderstand or have no reaction to. I doesn't mean I speak lots of languages (I speak British English and American English, so I am bilingual) but that I work in a profession that deals with "language" as a whole. I am interested in things like grammar, pronunciation, etymology, meaning, and lots of other weird and wonderful topics. I get paid to do this, so that helps ;)

All this is simply a preamble to commenting on the word SLebrity, which, after a year of living and working as a writer in Second Life, I discovered only a few days ago. How can that be? It seems such an obvious portmanteau that I'm surprised I didn't coin it myself many months ago.

Well, one reason for not coming across it is that it is still a low frequency word. When you perform a Google search, you get a figure that tells you how many examples of the search term are found. SLebrity has the following:

Results 1 - 10 of about 2,730 for slebrity

By contrast, sesquipedalian gets 104,000 hits, pareidolia gets 127,000, and even Sigmund Leominster gets 4,870! So, apart from the fact that I am clearly more of a SLebrity than slebrity,you get the idea: SLebrity is still a neonate in the world of words.

Top of the search list is a reference to SLebrity in the - surprise - Second Life Wikia. Here it is defined as, "a
portmanteau of SL for Second Life and celebrity. It refers to an avatar who has become notable in second life media, though not necessarily in the wider world."

Then comes a blog post entitled SLebrity Inc. June Promotional Contest, which refers to a contest held in June 2008, the results of which I sadly do not know and have no intention of finding out just yet because I have a life.

Moggs Oceanlane mentions the word in her December 2008 blog post about annual Second Life lists, in reference to Vain Inc.'s Best of Reader's Choice Nominations.

However, I feel that it is an under-used, under-valued word that has the potential to make it big. SLebrity can become a Slebrity! All it needs is a little promotion and tender loving care. And because Slebrity is, like real life Celebrity, a pointless, trivial, and ultimately irrelevant thing, I'm going to make it my Cause for 2009: Slebrity for SLebrity!

Not for me promoting the causes of cancer kids, starving Africans, abandoned kittens, whales, Welsh, or any one of a million celebrity-endorsed money-making schemes. No, I'm standing low and going for goal - nothing! A pointless campaign for a pointless reason purely because I want to. It's an existentialist wet dream writ large. And what's more, I can measure it so as to be able to prove whether what I have done over the year actually achieved anything. So here's the starting point:

January 3rd, 2009: The word SLebrity generates 2,730 hits.

All I have to do is to remember to check this again at the end of 2009 and see how many hits appear. And because it is based on objective crawling by the Google search engine, even you, dear reader, can check that I am not lying. The results of my promotion are objective, repeatable, and verifiable. Real science, ladies and gentlemen, not some crystal ball gazing or self-justified rationalization from a self -appointed "guru" who's trying to persuade you how right his or her predictions were. Nope. Real science.

And here's the really sweet thing: I can't lose! If the figure goes up, I claim victory in proving that I can promote a word to new heights. If the figure stays put or drops, I claim that I have demonstrated how shallow and pointless SLebrity is. It's a win-win for me come the end of the year.

You can help. Use the word "SLebrity" whenever you can. Use it in your blogs and articles. Add it to your profile. Buy my T-shirt - "I'm a SLebrity!" And most of all, come back in one year to see if my "Prediction for 2009" comes true.

The Power of Bad News

In the drama-filled world of high fashion and pixelated beauty, few things are juicier than "When Models Go Bad." A press release from Maggie Mahoney hit my in-box yesterday regarding the tragic tale of Jonny Tobias. Apparently I have been living under a rock because I did not know that Mr. Tobias had been named Male Model of the Year, an appellation that presumably rocked the worlds of at least seven people and a dog called Skippy.

But - shock horror - it seems that although Mr. Tobias has the body of a god and the looks of an Adonis, he is no gentleman. According to Runway, Jonny made some "inflammatory and tasteless comments" on Flikr, the nature of which I have been unable to find out just yet. i did hop on to Jonny's vapid Flikr site to find nothing that filled me with revulsion - except for the overdone beefcake and cheesecake pics that prove Mr. Tobias takes himself his job very seriously.

However, what I really found interesting was to take a look at his hit statistics. Following the press release yesterday, January 2nd 2009, he went from an average of maybe 3 or 4 per day to a whopping 250 on January 3rd 2009! Most folks would die for that sort of PR - hell, I'm thinking of becoming a male model just so I can get drummed out of the cheer squad to increase my hit rate.

Jonny has some 657 more contacts on Flikr than I do - I have two. So for a guy who has now been stripped of his title, methinks he's not too shabby at self-promotion. Of course, in the world of celebrity - even SLelebrity[1] - there is no such think as bad publicity. It's all about awareness and "being there." I doubt Jonny will be condemned to the heap of has-beens and will continue on his merry way to do whatever it is that male avatar models do so well.

[1] I like this word and I'm going to do my best to promote its use in 2009. See my next post for a discussion of its origins and provenance,

Jan 2, 2009

Building a Better Business Card

In preparation for the opportunities ahead in 2009, I decided to create a new business card. Actually, the word "new" sort of implies there was an "old," which there wasn't. So, I decided to create a business card...

Using the excellent Paint Shop Pro X software, I designed and uploaded a texture, squandering L$10 in the process.

Climbing to the roof of my house, I rezzed a box, turned it into a thin card, and added a notecard script. By the time I'd finished, I had freely distributable object that can hand out a notecard with my details. Cool, huh?

So I invited my friend, the extremely talented photographer Seikatsu Koba over to take a look. Dangerous, because Seik's as honest as she is cute - sorry, pretty! And after casting her newly bespectacled eyes over the card, she said, "Why didn't you do it landscape?"

Curses! I had no idea why I didn't, even thought in real life the world uses landscape orientation for business cards. Sometimes I really think my brain has serious holes in it somewhere.

Lucky for me, Seikatsu is somewhat sensitive to my fragile ego and she offered to take my "first draft" and work on it. And she did. Within 30 minutes she'd revamped, restyled, re cropped and reworked the whole thing. She still thought it looked a little more like an ad for a male model than a journalist - thanks to the outfit by Yelmer Pfeffer of Alphamale - but seeing as I write and get paid to cover men's fashion, I didn't want to look like Jimmy Olsen.

The final card is wonderful. It pays to have someone with a photographer's eye take a look at what you create. Thanks Seik!

Jan 1, 2009

Welcome Back Cattiva e Cattivo

One of the first designers I met in Second Life was Lissa Martens. I remember first meeting her in her store, Cattiva e Cattivo, when I was in my early days of shopping for clothes. In fact, one of the first outfits I bought was something called The Englishman, an ensemble of bits and pieces that I could mix and match.

We chatted for a short time but enough to get a sense of her sense of humor. And oh does she have one!

The next time I got a real chance to interact was when she went into business with Simone Stern, another fashion icon in Second Life. Cattiva e Cattivo would be no more and Lissa would be creating new things under the Simone! banner. Interviewing them for FreeLife magazine was like working with a double act. Simone was the straight man and Lissa the comic.

And announced today, Lissa is dissolving the Simone relationship and bringing back Cattiva e Cattivo as her personal flagship. I couldn't resist making a flying visit to see what the place was like. In truth, it hasn't changed ;) We poor guys still have to walk upstairs and currently she is showing her old CeC items and those that she has been selling under the Simone! name.

However, those of you who haven't shopped at Cattiva e Cattivo can now start building up your Lissa Maertens folder. I already have about 1/3 of what she sells and there are some pieces I will be picking up to take me up to the half-way mark. I still wear her Acid Iron jeans as my everyday denims and still love to slip on the Perfectly Pinstriped Light Blue suit whenever I want the smart summery look.

SLurl: Cattiva e Cattivo