Friday, October 13, 2006

"Second Life": The body in cyberspace

This article in Popular Science discusses a contemporary version of the "virtual reality," that Wiliiam Gibson wrote about twenty years ago: the web-based "Second Life"

I'm standing in an airy train station surrounded by rolling, wooded hills. Distant sounds of birds and trickling water reach my ears over a low buzz of chitchat from the people around me. They have come from all over North America to meet here, and now they're lounging on couches and standing in sociable little clots. Ballerinas are talking to men in body armor, while guys in suits show off their dance moves to aliens and ladies with wings. I try not to stare.

Or rather, a digital version of me called an avatar tries not to stare. I'm sitting at my computer, and my point of view hovers about three feet behind as I use the arrow buttons on my keyboard to amble toward the street outside. Next to me, a blue elf and a towering woman in a black cape tap on invisible keyboards that hover in the air. I can hear the click of the keys, and cartoon speech bubbles near their heads reveal that they're discussing computer programming.

Read the rest of the article here or visit Second Life yourself. Maybe we should all join and hold class there ...


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